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By Dan Austin /

When you wake up each day with a game drive (ok smiling faces and good coffee first) is pretty tough to have a bad day. Today was no exception.  After a few days In Africa you start getting into a rhythm, perhaps its the same rhythm the locals are blessed with.

We eagerly headed out early this morning.  Our goal, the endangered  Black Rhino.  Our
trackers headed out first and we had one more cup and followed closely behind.

It took all of 30 minutes to come upon one of the WWF tracking team patiently waiting in the road.  Still sun barely peeking above the horizon, he points 500 yards away to 2 more trackers and Jeff slightly above the springs.   “He is there” he proclaims.    5 minute safety and rules talk and we head out.  15 minutes later all you could here is snapping shutters.

Our trackers took notes and taking pictures and logging details.  They whisper details, they know this fellow “Don’t worry” and estimated at 30 years old.  We have a 15 minute time limit as to not disturb him.

Namibia seems to have Rhino poaching on the run, there has only been one confirmed kill in the last few years, as opposed to upwards of 2 a day in South Africa.

We press on, endless wildlife sights, each on special.  We stop at “v zyl’s gat “, (picture small spring in SW canyon) a true oasis in this arid land.  A dip for all and then we continue on towards the distant plateaus.

Early afternoon we arrive at Grootberg Lodge perched on the rim of the Etendeka Plateau over looking the Klip River Valley. 12 rock and thatch huts will be home.

Quickly freshening up we head out “on top” for another game drive.  The plains game on top were a abundant.   The light amazing and the conversations stimulating.

We returned to the lodge for yet another fine meal and then were treated with guests and conversation for hours regarding the “pros and cons” of the conservancy program.  Grootberg Lodge we learn was the first JV lodge/ community project and I had the true pleasure of dining and chatting with it’s champion Maxi (NACSO Executive Director).

After dinner we had a robust conversation to what “we” can do to help (why we are here),  but first we need to heart the challenges.   In a nut shell #1 of course and as always is unfortunately funding as it often is with any project.  Then we drill down to things like compensating farmers for elephants damaging crops and lions eating goats, things we don’t often consider.

One thing struck me as a parallel, many of the issues are quite similar to our re introduction of wolves in Yellowstone and the ongoing conflict with local ranchers, so maybe we are not all that different after all.

Just an FYI, we calculated we are in the 5000 photo arena, with 4 days to go!!

Tonight we are headed in to the bush for a night of camping.

More to come.  I have I mentioned how much I love and respect Namibia and its people?

Namaste,

Dan Austin

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