Monday, 12 September 2016

Unexpected passing of my best friend and endurance horse, Kitima Samurai.

Tears fill up my eyes and my heart shoots up to my throat every time I think of him. Today 9 days ago my boy was put down due to sever edema on his brain. This was caused by a case of Babesia Equi. He was taken to one of the local Veterinary Hospitals where he stayed under 24 hour observation for 16 days. Those where the worst 16 days of my life. When he arrived there, blood was immediately drawn to be sent away for analysis to be 100% sure of his diagnosis and the treatment began. The sad thing is that those virus blood test sometimes take up to three weeks to be completed and most horses pass before then because it ultimately just takes too long for the results to be finalized and delivered. Every second day he had high temperature spikes which was a set back. Just when we think we have some positive results he has another set back. So it continued for 10 days when we finally had the virus results back which stated that he had Babesia Equi. The Veterinarian treated him with different medication and nevertheless he had such a positive come back for 3 days. I was so happy that I might have my boy back home with me in just a few days. But that evening everything spiraled out of control. He fell around in his stable and his temperature spiked again, he did not register to voices or movement and she explained the edema has caused this. She stayed with him throught the entire night just to see him worsening. And we finally decided we can't let him go through this any more. This was the absolute worst decision I have had to made in my entire life. He was put down that night. I am a true believer in our Heavenly Father and I know He has greater things in store for us and I believe that with all my heart. It takes time to process somethings like this and it is how you rise above your circumstances that determines who you are. I will have a emptiness in my heart for some time to come and his stable will be empty without his beautiful face looking out to me. He gave me so much joy, laughter and anxiety on the endurance field that I will never exchange for anything and those memories will be cherished and they will be forever etched into my heart. And that is what I want to remember of him
 He was one of the best gifts that I have ever been blessed with in my life. 
Love you forever my special boy.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

June 2016 Wildlife Veterinary course. Volunteers helping to save South-Africa's White Rhino.

Our Wildlife Veterinary course for June 2016 just came to an end. What an exciting and unforgettable experience it was. We had Veterinary students from the UK and Scotland and what a wonderful bunch of upcoming Veterinarians they are going to be. 
The highlight of the course was the Rhino de-horning for their own protection from poachers as the trade in Rhino horn is escalating into a snowball effect. We are uncertain of the future of our beautiful animals but let us all hope and pray there is an upcoming solution that everybody will be satisfied with. When this will ever happen is unsure. We have gotten so accustomed to Rhinos not having any horns, seeing them with horn is a sight for sore eyes. A Rhino bull horn can grow as much as  a kilogram per year and a rhino cow up to 800 grams per year.

For more than 30 years the central debate about Rhino Conservation has resolved around banning the trade in Rhino horn. All five species of Rhinoceros where put on the CITIES Appendix 1 in 1977 and international trade in their products where declared illegal. Despite the efforts of by mostly Western Governments and NGO's the trade has continued.

The threat facing the Rhinoceros population is a major concern to all who are serious about conservation and sustainable development. The prospect of the Rhinoceros facing extinction twice in a lifetime is hard to grasp. Despite the efforts of the conservation authorities and private game farmers, the situation seems to be increasingly worse for the Rhino.

Save the Rhino.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Impact Of Wildlife Based Tourism.

Privileged and blessed beyond imagination to able to do what we love is one of the most important key factors to make a success out of something you love. And I realize is more strongly every single day.
Surround yourself with people with the same ambition as you and take a chances, be daring and challenge yourself. As volunteer programs are mostly wildlife based tourism and that is what we are about, I would like to share what the impact has on South-Africa.
Game can play an important role in wildlife based tourism, which is likely to become one of the better economic supporters as well as a large earner of foreign exchange. Wildlife supports the goal of achieving a sustainable  living planet. Wildlife tourisme creates an immense amount of job opportunities for local residents. This is why the tourism industry can be seen as one of the largest contributing industries to economic growth an employment creation.

In the picture above we immobilized a Golden Wildebeest which is a colour variation of the normal Blue Wildebeest(Connochaetes Taurinus). She was immobilized for the fact that she has not yet delivered a calf, an ultra sound was performed in the open field to quickly determine if she was pregnant and the results were negative. She will be
be closely monitored for his time and hopefully we will be able to get positive results.
These are beautiful and rare animals which makes the sought after.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Road to the African Endurance Championship in Walvis bay Namibia.

It as has always been an enormous dream of mine to compete in the prestigious event, the African Endurance Championship in Namibia.
Last year I started off with my new horse Kitima Samurai, bred my Kitima Stud in Burgersford. I only bought him as a trail horse for my horseback safaris.  A year after I bought him I decided to take him up as an endurance prospect. He is very well bred but certainly good genetics does not necessarily mean this horse will be good on the track. As one of the most important things are his own actual genetic make up and of course his mental strength. We started training in early 2015 and the above picture was his first 40km race. As he novice horse he needs to successfully complete 2x 40km and 2 x 80km at an average speed of 16km/ph or slower. A novice horse can only complete this phase over the course of 24 months and no shorter than 12 months.
He surely is a hand full but I enjoy every moment of it, he builds me up to be a better and more focused rider.
The AEC is a very though race it consists of a few distances, in particular 120km, and a 90km race. I would like to compete in the 90km race as this would ''hopefully'' be our first one. Training for this race should be up to 6 months prior and it consists of a lot of deep sand work which is grueling. I have done some research and have spoken to some riders that have competed in this event and one of the biggest challenges of this course is Dune 7 which would be on our last loop of the race. Dune 7 is located in the Erongo district of Namibia, approximately 7km east of Walvis Bay, it is the highest dune in the costal region, and is a popular spot for various activities. The majestic dunes of the Namib were formed as a result of sand being carried on the wind from the coast. The sand found here is 5 million years old, comprised predominantly of small grains encased in a thin layer of iron oxide. This is the coating that gives  the Namib it's characteristic red colour.
We have been into training for a month and a half now and I am very pleased. 
Hopefully our road to the African Endurance Championship would be one of many more to come.

Love you my special boy.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Mass Impala Capture.

A very frequent occurrence we have here is Mass Game Captures. Conducted with a helicopter, bomas, a few very talented pilots and a large ground crew!
The boma setup takes up to a day of blood and sweat to construct. Normally the location selected is quite dense but as open as possible. The boma is erected in a funnel shape moving the animals downward towards the loading ramp and the truck in which they will be transported in. The pilot is out scanning the area for the closest herd, in this case it was Impala(Aepyceros Melampus). The pilots working these machines are absolutely amazing, this is a very scarce set of skills. A lot of people can fly a helicopter and obtain their pilots license but this is sheer, raw passion and a love for aviation and wildlife combined. The level of skill that these pilots are at are just amazing and not enough credit is given. 
Ground to air radios are used for communication from the pilot to the one in charge on the ground. Once the herd of animals are in the boma the back curtain is closed, from there they are moved forward into 3 sections. Once they enter a section the curtain at the back of the herd is closed, preventing them from running back and forth causing unnecessary distress for the animals. As they enter the last section which is the smallest, the loading process will start. Once the animals are in the truck they are given a sedative to calm them down for the truck ride. Normal drugs for this will be Haloperidol and Azaperone.

For the love of African and her amazing Wildlife.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Dangers Of Endurance Riding.

As Endurance Rides are part of our program at Selati Horseback Safaris, I would like to share the following story.

I attended a Endurance ride with a friend on 19 - 20 Feb 2016. She asked me if I would like to ride one of her mares, and without even hesitating I said yes. Always fun traveling together to the rides as it is very social. Arrived on friday offloaded the horses and got them settled in. The afternoon around 17:00pm it was time for the pre-vet checks. The horses where pumped up and ready to go as her mare  got very busy, such a go getter! It took two different Vets to evaluate her. After that we took them back to their paddocks and set them in for the night. We where nervous and anxious for the following morning. It was a early start, we got up at 03:00am and went to the ride base at 04:00am. Anxiously waiting to saddle up the horses and to start the race. Our start time was 06:00am. So I took the mare and started saddling her. As I pulled the bridle over her head she jump up high on her back legs. Settling down I got it on, second step was the saddle. The saddle was on her back, as I tightened the girth she jumped up again and as instinct I ran a few meters forward to get out of the way. As I was running I heard a loud noise, it sounded like a gun shot. As I turned around there she was on the ground, the only life that was left was the last remaining kicks in her back legs. I ran as fast as I could not being able to contain my tears to call a Vet.
Ultimately when she jumped up she fell backwards on her head and she was dead on impact. The only thing we could do was cover her up and wait for someone to remove her. It was a very distroughtful scene and could never in our wildest dreams imagine that something like this would happen.
RIP beautiful Mekadesh Mikayla.

Saving A Species.

A few months ago this little White Rhino calf was abandoned by her mother just a few days after giving birth. Luckily this story has no ''poaching'' in it. She is thriving well with her care taker and companion friend the sheep. As tiny as they are one can never think that they could grow into such massive and intelligent creatures. Sometimes it's hard to reintroduce hand raised animals back into a herd as they can become habituated to the ''people'' taking care of it, which is understandable considering the age of this little calf. As you can see she loves the attention.
But when there is a will there is a way and I am sure this little girl will someday be reintroduced to a herd suitable for her  needs.