Where is the $$$ going??
The Faces Behind the Budget:
Scientific research is only as good as the people you have working on the ground, and behind every great publication and discovery is an indispensable team of research assistants, personnel, and People Who Get Things Done! For this project, we have the added complication (perk?) of working in Big 5 country, and we need trained professionals to keep us safe from the elephants, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard that are waiting to pounce from behind every bush and stand of grass (hah, we wish). With the funds generated by this campaign we will be able to hire some lovely people, without whom I'd be as good as mongoose bait.
The Field Assistant: Maria Blanco
Hails From: The Canary Islands University: IE University Degree: Biology Favorite Food: Chocolate Favorite Tree: Baobab Likes: Salamanders, Reading, Ocean diving, Wild dogs, Milkshakes Dislikes: Ticks, Leeches, Driving the field vehicle, Accidentally eating spiders, Being pressured to disclose 'likes' and 'dislikes'
The Game Guards: Desmond Siza, Onicca Sithole, Thomas Rikombe and Isaac of the stellar earrings.
Desmond will be a game guard for Phalaborwa and Shingwedzi. He does a mean elephant impersonation and can tell you the ins and outs of park politics and tree ID alike. He's saved my neck a number of times, so I can tell you there's no one better to have in a pinch.
Of all the ladies I know who walk around carrying elephant rifles, Onicca is by far the coolest (but perhaps that's redundant?). Hailing from Skukuza, Onicca can ID a tree from 50 meters and knows how to cut down erroneous deductions with a single, withering glare. Inarguably the best of the best, I would never think of walking out into the veld without her.
Don't let the laid back attitude fool you, Thomas is a grizzled veteran of the game guard corp and you can bet he didn't claim that distinction through luck. Thomas also works out of Shingwedzi and Skukuza, and while he's generally pretty taciturn, you should see what happens when the vehicle is charged by a bull elephant.
Isaac of the stellar earrings and the shiny smile. Nothing more need be said.