Our last week in South Africa we were in the Addo Elephant National Park, where we stayed in cabins. We went to a cheetah sanctuary/breeding center, where cheetah’s and other big cats are kept in cages in order to protect them from hunters and to re-establish a varied gene pool of cheetah’s in South Africa to conserve the species. We also went to the sand dunes in the national park, which were huge and looked like a small desert right next to the ocean. We went sandboarding/sledding which was really cool and we boogie boarded down a ski-slope sized hill, over a small beach and then 50 ft across the river. Terrifying but so so much fun. Missed out on snow this winter, but we still got to go sledding!
We also went on a full-day safari in the National Park, which is 200,000 hectares in total (770 square miles) and strives to conserve the area’s natural ecosystems, so all the animals and plants in the park are native (so no giraffes or hippos but that’s okay). On our drive we saw zebra’s, buffalo, kudus and other antelope, warthogs + their babies, ostriches, tons and tons of elephants, some vervet monkeys, a flightless dung beetle, and a lot of cool birds. It was really amazing to see and learn that dedicating that much land to the preservation of wildlife is still possible, even though humans have taken up so much space and are so destructive to the environment. It was also kind of strange to realize that the main incentive for the conservation of those animals is tourism, since there has to be a profit to sustain and encourage the industry. Even though these animals have lived on this land for hundreds of thousands of years, the main reason why humans still want them to be around is for money (as a business owner) or for looking at them (as a tourist). Do these creatures not deserve a place on earth for their own worth?