I gave a tour of the center to a little girl whose name was also Maggie. She was from Kentucky which is where I was born and loved reptiles just like I do. It made me think of all the tour guides and naturalists that encouraged my love for animals and desire for a career working with animals. It was a crazy full circle moment for me because I am getting to do what I have loved since I was young and in doing so I get to be an example to other kids who love animals about what you can do.
African sunsets are one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. The sun is so orange here, and its stunning as it sets over the river. Every day I try to catch the sunset and it takes my breath away every time. American sunsets just can’t compare.
On the second camping trip we saw a bunch of ostriches which was so cool. They are massive and they have the most muscular thighs. We got to watch them drink. It was funny to watch them scoop the water up in their beak and tilt their head back to swallow. When they walk, they strut and their feathers kind of jiggle as they move which makes them look pretty regal.
We went on a morning game drive and saw a leopard! It was probably the most amazing animal I have ever seen. The leopard was stalking a hare and was moving up and down the bank of the river. Our guide drove so fast to get us to see the leopard, and once we got there it was safari car madness. There were at least six safari cars following the leopard and jostling with each other to get the best view. After we saw the leopard our guide sped off the the other side of the park so we could see a pride of lions. To finish off the morning we all hung out and had tea and biscuits.
I got to go water sampling which was super fun. Being out on the water in general is always a blast, but it was also cool to take the samples and learn about how they were going to be processed. We got to sample in the park, so I got to see a bunch of elephants and lots of cool birds. It was also awesome to hang out with the other students and staff on the boat; we even got to catch the sunset! It was like our own personal scientific sunset cruise.
Every time we see a giraffe I am blown away by just how massive they are. I had seen giraffe before in zoos and pictures, but nothing compares to seeing it in the wild just a few meters from the car. It gave me an appreciation for the animal that you can’t get without seeing it in the wild doing its thing. They look so funny when they drink water!
Impalas were probably one of, if not the, most common animals we saw in Botswana. They are probably more populated in this area than White-tailed Deer in America – which is saying a lot. We had a joke as a group that every time we would see an impala we would say, “Oh look! An Impala!”
The Kudu’s antlers are some of the most beautiful, in my opinion. Their stripes on their back only add to the beauty of this African ungulate. I have been blessed to be able to observe them both on the game drives and by the side of the road through our travels.
This image is also from the first camping trip that we went on. Heaven was watching the elephants on the bank across from the bore hole we were camping next to. We could hear the elephants coming for drinks throughout the night (and other wildlife as well)!
This was from our first camping trip in the bush! If you look closely enough, you can see the elephants’ reflection in the water, lit by the setting sun.