By Hilda Chishamba, Cape Leopard Trust Intern
Traveling in the bus for three days, I thought to myself, “Am I making the right decision?” I calmly thought that I was in the bus already so it had to be right. This is a glimpse of my experience as an intern...
On the 12 of February, I found myself working at one of the most beautiful places in the world- the Cederberg with the Cape Leopard Trust. I had seen pictures of the Cederberg but I must say pictures do not do it justice.
The environmental education team were very welcoming and supportive (Catherine, Nicole and Hadley). During working hours I assisted Mrs. Catherine Kuhn, one of the environmental educators on camps. My duties included setting up camp, cleaning, reading, presenting and assisting on any errands that came about.
I spent the first month, living and working at Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve at the Tokietokkie Camp site. This came with privileges of visits to Staadsal, the world heritage site protecting the rock art of the KhoiSan people, and we visited the site on most camps. Just like one of the kids, I would often imagine how it was back in the KhoiSan era. Additionally, I saw, smelt, touched cedar trees for the first time after having only read and heard about them (the bark does smell lovely). Having never thought of myself as a rock person or rock lover, nothing prepared for the Truitjieskraal area. I remember saying in my mother tongue “Heyii” which means Wow!!!. There were so many rocks to explore, to sit on, to climb and rocks beautifully laid out but still telling a story of erosion, seasons and so much more. As you can tell, I really enjoyed being a part of the camps. But what was even more special was when the kids called me Tani Hilda and joked about the Hilda from 7delaan (a local drama).
Being an intern has been wonderful and it has led to confront personal weaknesses and discover some. I am one of those people, who still get a dry throat and my stomach does a somersault every time I am asked to speak in front of people. On one camp, Catherine asked me to speak about scorpions before doing the scorpion activity. I read through my material and practiced but was still nervous. With encouragement I mustered up courage and spoke about scorpions. Afterwards, I realized the kids really wanted to learn and were not there to judge my speaking or presenting abilities. In between camps, I busied myself with completing small tasks and hiking whenever possible. It was on a hike that I saw wet leopard skat, excited I took a picture with my phone and confirmed with Catherine and Lana (Leopard Researcher). Even though, I did not see the leopard and I was still amped to see the evidence of their presence.
Due to circumstances beyond our control we had to move camp to Groot Wintershoek Wilderness Area at the venues of one of our partners, Educo Africa. It ended up being an opportunity for me to see more of the Cederberg. Not only is it beautiful but there are even more places to explore. After a whole week here already there are is still so many places to hike and so many koppjies to climb.
To put an icing to the cake, our first camp in Groot Winterhoek with the Belhar Scouts was a huge success hence I am looking forward to experience more of this amazing place!