Leopards, Exams and Malaria, Oh My!

Hello Everyone!

This has been a fairly eventful week. First of all, last Saturday, I was diagnosed with malaria.  I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little off colour, yet still went on a game drive. I went to the morning lecture (yes we have classes on Saturdays) and by 9 o’clock I was really feeling lousy. I spent the next couple of hours in bed sleeping as my fever slowly got worse–by 11 it was up around 102. We decided that it was time to go to the doctor, but the doctor was playing golf! So I waited until 5 to see him. By the time I got to him I was in bad shape. He took a blood sample, found the malaria and put me on a pretty powerful cocktail of drugs (I took 16 pills a day for 3 days). Luckily the fever broke that night, and I was able to get some sleep. The pills were really effective. By now, I’ve finished the treatment and the malaria should be out of my system and I am just terribly tired. I have been in bed for most of the week. All in all it sounds like I was lucky though. We caught the malaria really early, so the symptoms were not nearly as bad as they could have been, and because I was taking an anti-malarial, it took longer for the parasites to take hold. Still though, it was enough to completely wipe me out for the last 5 days.   Luckily, we are going into exams tomorrow, so instead of missing a week of field-work we have had reading days, thus, I have been able to study and sleep in my bed the entire time. It’s been a long haul, but all in all I am starting to feel back up to snuff. This Saturday we are on our midterm break which will be in Sabie, a small community near by. Sounds like the days will be filled with hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and relaxing, so I am very anxious to completely recover.

Before the weekend we had some exciting animal encounters. On one game drive we came across two black rhinos fighting over territory. We missed most of the fight, but we heard the last crash of their battle and saw one facing off to the other on the road. He was bloodied and really torn up and there was blood all over the road. It was pretty amazing, a ferocious battle of two titans. We stayed for a while after they left and a hyena loped up and started lapping up the blood directly in front of us, it was an amazing morning!

The next morning, we had a fantastic leopard sighting. We were driving along and in a dead tree just off the road was a beautiful female leopard sitting in the morning sun. She sat there for several minutes and then slipped her way down the tree and paced around the riverbed right next to us. It was very exciting. Then, the next night, a friend and I were out for a walk in camp and we sat down on some benches on a boardwalk near the water. Soon after we heard rustling in the bushes, I grabbed my flashlight (torch) and shined it in and saw another leopard just on the other side of the electric fence, not 7 meters away! It was quite a thrill.

I hope all is well with you. I am going to be without internet again for a while but I will write as soon as I can.

All my best,

Colin

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