I abandoned you guys again for a bit there. But I have a good reason this time, I swear! When I last chatted with you, I was in Cape Town furiously trying to finish up my MSc… well guess what – I DID IT!!!! I have officially finished and handed in my MSc. Which is one of the reasons I disappeared, the end was quite hectic, I was in the office until 1-2am most nights. But it is done and dusted!! Woot woot!!! Now the waiting game for the examiners to review it and then I will make the necessary corrections and after all of that then I will be able to graduate with a Masters! I am definitely going to be having a jedi party to celebrate.
Now the second reason I have been so quite is after I handed in my MSc in February, Ryno and I made the trek back to Johannesburg. I immediately had a serval meeting to attend the day after we arrived and then a wild dog meeting shortly after that which I was busy prepping for. Finally starting to settle back in at home, I went out for dinner for my birthday. Lisa made me the most incredible BB-8 birthday cake!!!
Ryno came with me to play with Lisa and Gareth’s pup as we enjoyed a lovely time!
I arrived back at my house around 20:45 to discover that the back security gate to my house was completely ripped out of the concrete wall and my house has been burglarised.
The thieves stole both my brand new laptop along with my old laptop (which was now a backup), hard drives, my new drone, a GoPro, both of my Canon camera bodies, and both of my professional lenses along with my camera bag and various gear. A total equalling about R220 000 (~$13,000 USD worth of items. Unfortunately, insurance is not playing nice and is refusing to pay out for the items. Now for those who do not live in South Africa you must understand the security levels on houses here. My property is surrounded by a 3 meter (9.8 feet) solid concrete wall with an electric fence on top of that, the gates to the property are metal and open electrically with a remote, both the doors on my house also have locking metal security gates that are bolted into the concrete walls of the house and every window in the house has metal burglar bars. This is considered “low to medium security” in South Africa, some houses have insane security measures. Now all this does is make it so burglars have become smarter and have adapted to the latest security measures – they still break in, it just requires a little more effort on their part. Many houses also have metal security gates inside their houses to lock the bedrooms off from the main part of the house. This way, when burglars break in your house, you can lock yourself in the bedroom (or already have done so when you go to sleep) giving you a little extra time to call for help. Now calling for help is a different story. There is no 911 in South Africa, instead you have to pay for private security in your area and call on them if something happens. We did call the police after the security arrived to assess my burglary, but the did not even bother coming out, it is more just a practicality so you can have a police report. Hey. This is Africa and this is definitely one of the biggest downsides to living in the city. But I am extremely lucky that Ryno and I were not home and were not harmed. We chatted with the neighbours and pinned point down that the burglars were there sometime between just after 20:00 and when I got home at 20:45, so there was a very good possibility that I could have ran into them in the act and who knows what would have happened there! Not having a laptop made life very difficult to operate digitally and I only was able to replace my laptop 3+ weeks later thanks to Willie from the Pittsburgh Zoo who was travelling to Zimbabwe and had a layover in Joburg and was willing to bring me a new laptop with him!
I have started a raffle on Facebook, raffling off one of my photography or painting prints to raise money for a new camera. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support; I have the most incredible people out there!!! The raffle ends tonight, and I will announce the winner tomorrow!
Very long story short – it was a SUPER chaotic month.
Annnnddd now thanks to COVID-19, we are all entering a totally different version of chaos worldwide. I am riding out the storm in Karingani Game Reserve in Mozambique where we are fairly removed from everything by being in the middle of nowhere. I know South Africa just announced a country-wide lock down and everyone worldwide is panicking. Things are definitely getting serious. People are saying that this is going to change the world and, honestly, initially I thought it was just hype having seen SARS, Swine-Flu and other such pandemics have little long-lasting effects on a global level. But I see it now, this really will have global effects. I worry for the African tourism and volunteer programmes, I know many friends and conservation projects that depend on them. I think only time will tell with how COVID-19 is going to change our world and how long it will take us to get back to “normal.” But until that point, I hope that wherever you are in the world, that you are safe and have everything you need to get through this disaster!!!