So about 2 years ago I was in university doing animal studies, I was still undergoing treatment after a surgery gone wrong! I reached out to Kerri at VulPro about going over to volunteer for a month in March/April and was over the moon when she said she had a space then for me to visit!!!
I booked everything immediately and I couldn't wait to go!! Unfortunately not long after I booked I had to go for another surgery. After 3 surgeries in less than a year I was left with Chronic Pain in my teeth and jaw that I couldn't get rid of. I'd had to leave my job, I was in and out of hospital and lived on pain relief to get through the day, I was really depressed and I didn't know what to do with myself.
By the time March had rolled around I felt utterly defeated. I still didn't have a job and I'd been on so many medications I couldn't even count them on both hands!
When I got to VulPro I was beyond excited to get up close to the vultures and meet more people who had the same passions as me!! Bettina showed me around and explained everything to me and I soon felt right at home!
The first time I met PJ we were cleaning out the water troughs and he was the first to come running up to the gate and wait for us! With his big brown eyes and crooked wing I instantly fell in love!! He was so curious and excited for us to get into the enclosure, not at all how I ever expected a vulture to be!
Over the next four weeks spending time with Kerri, Bettina, Obert, Notice and Charles I learnt so much about vultures that I hadn't known!
Going into the open enclosure and seeing PJ was always a highlight! Whether he was stealing my tools or destroying the nests or trying to nip at my shorts I just couldn't get enough of him! He was so playful and cute I could've have sat with him all day!!
I wanted to get a tattoo of PJ because during my time at VulPro I realised how important vultures were to the world and to me! PJ showed me that there is so much more to these magnificent birds than people realise! They're not Disney villains! They're adorable and loving and cheeky and important!
Meeting PJ and volunteering at VulPro changed my outlook on my life and gave me a new purpose; to tell as many people as I could about the plight of vultures! I feel honoured to be able to carry a piece of VulPro around with me for the rest of my life, and it's extra special because in spite of what has happened to him PJ is still the happiest and cheesiest vulture you will ever meet!
Thank you for giving me the chance to tell all that Bettina!!
Im März 2016 hatte ich in meinem Lieblingsgeierprojekt VulPro in Südafrika Waliserin Chelsea kennengelernt, die zum ersten Mal allein auf große Reise ging. Drei Wochen lang hatten wir uns ein Zimmer geteilt und obwohl wir sehr unterschiedlich sind mochte ich sie gleich vom ersten Moment an. Unvergesslich unsere allabendliche Jagd nach "fu*** flies", die zu Dutzenden unser Zimmer besiedelten und dreisterweise sogar auf unserer Haut rumgepimpert hatten... Wenn sowas mal nicht zusammenschweißt ;-) Nach anfänglichem Heimweh hatte Chelsea schnell die Arbeit bei VulPro und die Geier lieben gelernt und vor allem mit Kapgeier PJ Freundschaft geschlossen. Da Chelsea große, bunte Tattoos mag, von denen sie bereits eine beachtliche Anzahl vorweisen konnte, hatte sie mir schon damals vorgeschwärmt, dass sie gerne ein Geiertattoo von PJ hätte, wenn sie wieder zu Hause ist. Eineinhalb Jahre später erfüllt sie sich diesen Traum und war so nett ihre Story für meinen Blog zu schreiben.
Chelsea, PJ und ich