Today was a busy day, those who work here in the bush often refer to it “being another day in the office”. Like my daily schedule today was fraught with distractions. There was the elephant bull I almost walked into after finding fresh tracks on the road, the thrill of hearing an elephant “domestic” from afar. An adult female shouting at a young delinquent bull who, just having come into must, fancied his chances. The giant eagle owl that was being mobbed by a host of go-away birds (all he wanted was a quiet place to sleep). The busy sociable spiders in a tamboti tree, the vividly coloured blue waxbills flocking to the water’s edge and the shell of the giant African land snail. All these distractions before 9 am! Then there was time for contemplation as I sat at a waterhole and had peace followed quickly by a superbly mastered bush brunch conjured by the never faulting guides. It was then time to gather all my belongings and head out to the Moholo Holo animal rehabilitation centre, ever the pessimist about these places.

Oscar, the guide there did a sterling job as he deftly explained the reasoning behind the centre’s existence. You see, I had always thought that animal rehabilitation centres were merely a place of refuge for people who wanted to give wounded animals a cuddle, a bit of a Bunny-Hugger retreat. Lonely housewives who we’re hoping to add some meaning to the day. My suspicions seemed confirmed as, on our arrival, the tame warthog ambled over for a belly scratch.

I enjoyed Oscar’s jolly welcome and explanation, something to do with the conflict of local belief and conservation, the pressure on wildlife as it is hemmed-in by communities and the analogy of how we would feel if someone came onto our territory and made it home. In the end everyone has to exist together. Unfortunately there tends to be collateral damage – usually to the animals.

Some animals that are no longer able to hunt, fly and catch are housed here as a “hook” to educate visitors on the struggle facing snared lions, leopards and poisoned birds of prey. However all is not lost as the servals are part of a successful breeding project and the animals who can’t be rereleased into the bush offered me a unique chance to get close and personal. I enjoyed the opportunity to get really close to a variety of vultures as they are usually too far away to observe closely, hence being able to really see the colours, sizes and claws. I chuckled as Oscar gave me a nudge, “look lively! They have a sharp eye, don’t stand still for too long.”

I am not too sure of how I felt as I walked into the eagle enclosure, each regal bird had a deformity. (A bit like all the toys in the bad kids’ garden in Toy Story). The black breasted snake eagle had a broken and protruding wing, the gymnogene a missing claw and the bataleur eagle could no longer fly. A motley crew but a very vivid reminder of what we do to the animals of this earth as we erect power lines to run our TV’s and charge our iPads.

As I sit around the fire tonight I don’t have any answers, just more questions. A revived realisation that there is a lot going on that is not in favour of the wildlife we feel we need to protect. I recently watched the Tusk Trust awards where those individuals who championed the cause of the animals were honoured and I wished I was amongst them. However I have a different life, on a different continent, a family and a pretty normal job. The enormity of the problem is vivid, my shortfall very apparent. What can I do to ensure the leopard stays in its territory and doesn’t eat Oscar’s cattle? I read somewhere that you can do anything, just not everything, why does that make me feel weak?

I’m not about to do without the power lines, I don’t poison birds, I fly in aeroplanes, even if I was a more diligent recycler, a constant cyclist instead of a motorist, that bird of prey is still going to fly into that cable.