Living away from the hustle and bustle of a city, surrounded by wild animals, is a fascinating and faraway concept that many of us might have difficulty imagining. One of the many benefits of living in the bush is that there is always something to keep you entertained whether it’s buffalo on the runway, elephants in your backyard or uninvited office guests. Although this has its own charm and appeal, living in remote locations like some of our dedicated Peace Parks team members, comes with its own set of challenges.

Back at the Peace Parks head office in Stellenbosch, life is a little more…tame, but we thought that we would share some of the more sticky and incredible situations that our colleagues on the ground have had of late.

Runways are a popular spot for animals to hang out, with the short, chopped grass providing good grazing opportunities and visibility for plains game. Hannes van Wyk, Peace Parks Foundation’s Aviation Manager, noticed a large herd of buffalo grazing next to the runway in Limpopo National Park. Thankfully the maintenance team spent a week securing and repairing the perimeter fence to ensure the safety of both wildlife and pilots. You can watch more about what runway maintenance entails here. With the big game now cleared off the runway, Hannes and Bernard face a new, smaller and slightly cuter challenge that presents itself whilst in the air – a gecko in the cockpit!

Elephants can be another large obstacle that require navigation and patience when living in the wild. With their keen sense of smell, these hairless herbivores can detect food and water from several kilometres away. In the drier months when their usual food sources become limited – the next best thing is a tasty-looking vegetable garden, much to the horror of the Peace Parks team member who it belonged to.

But it’s not all about navigating the presence of big game when living amongst Africa’s animals, the smaller species provide just as much entertainment. In Limpopo National Park’s shady office block, a pair of cheeky tortoises identified that this is the perfect place to get some respite from the harsh midday heat – just in time for the weekly meeting! Meanwhile, Peace Parks’ ICT Manager, Wayne Brider, receives an unexpected visitor on his porch in Kwa-Zulu Natal – a harmless spotted bush snake.

Living in the wilderness where your day-to-day work is dictated by mother nature herself, requires adaptability, patience and awareness. Spending so much time in this environment, it is important to stop, listen and watch around you to make sure that you are not endangering yourself or the wildlife. At the end of the day, you are sharing a home with wild animals and learning to live in harmony with them, which is extremely important.