Yesterday afternoon we did the bi-weekly presentation for the African Impact volunteers; every coordinator presents the achievements of their own projects in the last two weeks and give awards to volunteers. For me it was of course the achievements of my two volunteer photographers whom I guided last weeks (or students as they call them here).
Easy; a few slides in powerpoint with the goal, all activities, which was actually quite impressive, and a separate slide with the amount of hours both photographers have spent on post processing and editing, an impressive number 0f 93 hours! A lot of people had no idea! After that the videos with photos made by both volunteers were shown. Instead of giving an award, I only had two volunteers to look after, I set up a little competition between the two of them, 3 photos per person and the other volunteers voted, the winner would be the new cover shot of the African Impact Facebook page for the next weeks. And the winner was of course…. a pretty photo of the cubs of course… (cuteness always wins 😉 )
Last week the photography program was pretty busy. I asked the two photography if the schedule wasn’t to much, but they just wanted to do it all… So we did…
- Induction wildlife photographyMeat-prep
- Creativity in photography workshop
- 3 Research drives
- 2 Game drives
- Horseback safari
- Overnight Horse safari
- Carriage ride
- Community at ALERT’s Education Center
- Night encounter
- Day encounter
- Elephant herding
- Lion walks
- Trip to Matopos
Besides that there is more to do around the park, so we did some so called “special photography projects”:
- Cub portraits
- Elephants and kitchen staff photo session
- Horse jumping photo session
- Horse therapy
At first I thought that the carriage ride was a bit dull or for sissies, actually I found out that it was great for photography! You can get so close to game on eyelevel and that is exactly what you need while photographing wildlife, so I’m keeping that in the program. Some other thinks I’ve arranged for the photographers, sometimes a real struggle because some people simply don’t get it; the open vehicle is for photography with a max. of 4 people on it and research for photographers with a max. of 3 people. Photographers need space!
One day I put the photographers on the Day Encounter with the P’s (the lions Phezulu and Pendo go out to in the park to train their hunting skills), knowing we would be squeezed between the other volunteers on the vehicles, but missing out on this experience was not an option. I took the back row of the vehicle, like always, and ended up turned around on my knees to get on eye-level with the lions following the vehicle.
Coordinating this all, with short of staf or vehicles running out of diesel, it kind of starts to look like a real job. So we can conclude after two weeks already, that running a photography program for experienced photographers at the park needs a dedicated guide with knowledge about photography (or at least understand what photographers need!). At a certain point I had to move around quite some activities and I apologised to the photographers about a mess up; they just looked at me “What mess? We’re having fun!” And I guess that’s just what it is all about; having fun while working on your project. So after two weeks I’m sending two exhausted volunteer photographers home, with good memories and a bunch of photos to add to their portfolios.
Besides that I have to do my own photography work around the park and also a bit of support for the business development side of the park. To attract some new business to the park the managers came up with the idea to develop teambuilding activities around the park based on the “team” in our fenced area next to the park; the semi-wild released pride. “A pride of lions is teamwork” and of course a presentation with photos of these lions was needed.
Now it’s weekend. This morning I finally got some time for myself getting a horse riding lesson, to get over my fear of horse riding. If there is one place in the world to get over that, it’s probably this place with stable manager Ted. Believe it or not, I got from grapping the saddle to throtting by myself in half an hour. A bit more practicing in the coming weeks and I’ll be joining the horse roundup in the morning. Well at least I set that as a goal.
It’s not all work-work-work around here, there is also some fun parts. The interns kind of grouped together and we have our own evenings with games at a campfire or visiting the overnight horse safari; just get your booze at the bar and hop onto a crappy pickup truck to drive of into the bush in middle of the night. It’s really a good part of living in Africa for a while. Another thing about living in Africa; we’ve been eating chicken all week… grilled, curry, taco’s, sandwiches… The story here is that about 400 chickens were slaughtered and were delivered to the park, one of the staff members owned them. Even the pride of cats in the park are done with chicken every night, at least nothing gets wasted here.
This week a vet arrived and guess what?! More are coming next week and they need photos of what they do with game and lions in the park. So Friday I already photographed a darting and the treatment of a lion with an abscess. So, besides guiding new volunteer photographers, it will probably be an exciting next week.
Also sharing my photos on
Antelope park: www.antelopepark.co.zw
ALERT African Lion and Environmental trust: lionalert.org
Interested in volunteering with lions? African Impact