MONDAY, 29th November 2021

AMES Dabchick Nature Reserve

Anna Grünwald

November 29, 2021

Waking up in this tranquillity, surrounded by nature and hearing nothing but the animals, is something I can't get enough of. Today is the second day in the AMES / Dabchick Reserve and I can't wait to see what it holds for us.

We start with a quick breakfast and a learning session with Les, discussing more mammals such as Elephants, Hippos, Hyenas and Leopards. Did you know a Hyena's jaw has the crushing power of 1,100 psi and because it eats bones, the poop turns white from the calcification?

We leave for the game drive. First sighting is a gold wildebeest. The story behind the golden wildebeest is quite interesting though. Hunting trophy's were were highly sought after and some businessmen created a new wildebeest species through gene crossing: the golden wildebeest, which were much more scarce than the vastly seen blue or black wildebeest, making them a great new trophy. Scientists today though argue that it's actually not a crossing but a recessive gene that gives them the golden colour.

We come back for lunch and while Dörte, Katharina & Matthias soak in some sun at the pool, Lea, Paul, Iva and myself went to a building site with Tommy to prepare the ground for a sundowner terrace. We cleared the terrace of stones and outlined the path towards the perfect sundowner spot overlooking the valley and mountains.

After a dip in the pool, Les comes along with two snakes, one was a small brown snake that got wounded and was treated to be reintroduced to nature, another a baby Python. The skin felt incredible: it was smooth yet structured and she remained calm on Les arms. I asked if I could hold her. Actually I was surprised at myself when the words left my lips - I'm usually not a big fan of snakes. Maybe it was the environment that made me lose the fear in that moment or the trust in Les that I would be safe. Les put the snake around my neck. It wasn't heavy but it was quite strange to not see it. When it moved it felt really funny because it wasn't just movement on one spot but across the whole neck and shoulders. It was an incredible feeling. Almost everyone else held the Python afterwards and the Python seemed to enjoy the attention.

We had a short studio session about AMES financials where Lea openly laid out where the funds have already flown into and what is planned with the residual money and future donations. We had good discussions among the Guardians and we all appreciated the transparency provided by Lea. We got a bit distracted though when a giraffe came to the waterhole by the reserve, split it's legs and had a drink, throwing around water like a kid playing in the pool. It was quite amusing to see.

Time for the sundowner drive. We packed cold beer and Gin Tonic and headed to the "Serengeti" - not the actual one (that is in Tanzania) but an open plane/savanna with few big trees casting shadows for the animals.

We unpacked a special gin, co-developed with Zanzibar Gin company from Hamburg. The Zanzibar Gin won this year's "Worlds best Gin" award and Hauke and Yuka, who are also huge Africa fans, donated 150 initial bottles to the AMES Foundation. The Gin is refined in Acai barrels to give it a special touch (taste & colour). Why the Acai barrel? Black rhinos are browsers and eat leaves and bark from trees, among which is the Acai tree, a tree native to South Africa. We called it "Rhino Gin". When we finished unpacking, as if it was fate, a Rhino came pretty close so we took the most incredible pictures of the Rhino Gin in front of the Rhino. Everyone loved the Gin and we talked about a pricing strategy and distribution model among the Guardians - great discussions leading to fantastic ideas. So stay tuned.

After dinner we went out for a night game drive in the dark. Sven led the way and spotted Wildebeests, Impalas, Warthogs, Jackals and Rhinos for us. Kai also took with him night vision goggles to help spot more animals faster. 

What a fulfilling day with many learnings, amazing animal sightings and hard work (stone terrace). We finished the day with some gin tonics in front of the fire where Paul introduced us to blackstories (also known as yes/no game), resulting in lots of laughter and a perfect end to a perfect day.