Week 10: Having a Whale of a Time

With the conclusion of this week I have officially been away from home by myself for the longest period of time in my life. Back in 2012 I studied abroad in Queretaro, Mexico for 10 weeks. With two more weeks to go I will finish out my internship and do a bit of sight seeing to make sure I hit all of the major points on my Cape Town to-do list before I have to leave.

Work this week consisted of a couple days of computer working, continuing to chug away on the camera trap project, and two meetings. On Tuesday the Gantouw Project meet with Cape Nature. Cape Nature is the responsible organization for biodiversity in the Western Cape. The reason for our meeting was to talk about getting a certificate of adequate enclosure for the reserve and a permit to transport the eland to other sites. Obtaining a certificate of adequate enclosure depends on what type of animal one is trying to have on their reserve. In our case it is the eland and also hippos that have been around for several decades. In order to meet the requirements for eland, the perimeter fence must be 2.8 meters tall. The permit for transport of the eland is needed to move them from Rondevlei to other reserves and sites that could benefit from the browsing and grazing pressures of the eland as a management tool. In order to obtain this permit, the receiving site must also have adequate enclosure for the eland. To move the eland, the project will also need a ‘hunting’ permit. This permits the herding of wild animals for transport purposes. Our second meeting of the weeks was with the Nature Care Fund. This is a group of CTEET personnel that work on all different projects coming together to discuss and then hopefully implement the best conservation practices they can. The mission of this group is to invest and disburse monies from Private individuals, Corporate companies, Friends groups and other bodies towards nature conservation projects. It was fun to sit in on this meeting and get to see to group operate and hear about all the different projects going on.

On the activity front this week, it was pretty jammed packed. Mondays I go to ultimate Frisbee held at the University of Cape Town’s cricket and track field. Tuesday involved going to Forex for quiz night, which we did not win. But the best part was the overnight excursion to Cape Agulhas. This trip started Friday morning by going to the city center to pick up a rental car. For those of you who do not know, in South Africa we drive on the left side of the road and in the right side of the car and almost all the cars are manual. Luckily for me I am ambidextrous, writing with my left and doing most other things with my right. As far as shifting and driving goes it took me all of about 2 seconds to get the hang of it. The only trouble I had all weekend with driving was using the windshield wipers a couple of times when I meant to use the blinker. So from Observatory we drove to Cape Agulhas. This was a little of a three hour drive with only one quick bathroom break. We went straight to the southern most tip of all of Africa as soon as we arrived. Many people who visit Cape Town of South Africa think that the Cape of Good Hope located at the end of the peninsula here in CT is the southern most point. However, they are wrong. It is the southwestern most point, but not the southern most. After a little bit of enjoying the view, this is also the point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, we headed into town for lunch. We then checked into our Airbnb, which was an ocean front house in L’Agulhas. We then went and checked out a ship wreck down the coast a little ways, got some chicken for a braai and went and hung out at our Airbnb for the night. Saturday started with a wonderful homemade breakfast cooked by our host followed by a scenic drive through the Western Cape on our way to Hermanus.  This time of year Hermanus is filled with people there to get a glimpse of the migrating Southern right whale. Spent a couple hours in Hermanus watching the whales, eating lunch, and watching the whales. It was really fun to see them swim around, waving their fins, and breaching. We watched an adult whale breach several times followed in suit by a calf. Then it was off to Betty’s Bay which is home to one of the two mainland African penguin colonies in South Africa. It was much quieter here compared to Simon’s Town but the penguins were just a great. The day ended with a windy, cliff-side drive to Gordon’s Bay, and finally back to Obz. I returned the car Sunday morning, got a quick coffee and pastry at St. James Cafe, did some grocery shopping and then it was off to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. We spent a few hours here just enjoying the sun and the nice weather. After the garden, I went to Hello Sailor for some delicious risotto and disco fries (I would consider these fries their version of poutine). This wrapped up my week.

It is now time to start my last week at my internship site at the Gantouw Project.

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