Third stop on our Rise of the Matriarch expedition was Phinda Game Reserve. We are here to see first hand how our donation money has supported a pangolin conservation project.

Before we get to Phinda, though, we stop to collect another Matriarch joining our crew. Then we convoyed to visit the Zululand Conservation Trust’s rhino orphanage. Part of our fundraising efforts have gone towards essential supplies for this very necessary initiative.

We shared a humbling few moments with these little rhino souls willing them healing from trauma and a second chance to survive, even thrive. A chance to stand firm in the wild where they belong, a symbol of steadfastness and reassurance.

Besides this heart moment with these animals, what struck me was passion and dedication of the staff here. It is such a difficult job and their 100% commitment to the care of these little rhino souls is awe-inspiring.

The next few days in Phinda are a revelation to me. I have been so privileged in my life to experience many wild spaces in Southern Africa. But our time in Phinda these last few days has been on another level. The landscape, the people, the wildlife moments were jaw-dropping, breath-taking and simply spectacular.

We experienced incredible moments with lion, cheetah, leopard, ellies, rhino, hippo and everything in between. When we weren’t bumbling along looking for wildlife, we were back in camp brunching under the Marula tree or enjoying dinner under the stars in the boma.

Every human we get to meet as part of this organisation blows us away with the passion and dedication to wildlife and wild places. In often challenging circumstances they keep a wonderful sense of humour and are so gracious in sharing their story with us.

I have never seen a pangolin. Now I can say I got to walk with one on an evening feed, radio tagged so she could be carefully monitored, nearly up to the weight needed for her safe return to the wild. Our ROTM donation paid for that radio tag. More are needed as pangolin continue to be the most trafficked animal!

What an incredibly special experience to be with this pangolin getting a second chance thanks to the collaboration of the African Pangolin Working Group, Johannesburg Wildlife Vets and Phinda Reserve.

I will carry close the memories of these few days in Phinda. Long may this wild space endure and their wildlife conservation endeavours succeed. Bayete – a royal salute.