My Life During Covid

12th August 2020

Only 14 essential staff stayed to look after the animals. The majority of the essential crew lived on site, so from a cautionary perspective it was good that we were isolated. We have more than 4000 wild animals in our care. Our small team was split into 4 groups, 8 people worked in the Monkeyland and Birds of Eden kitchen preparing food, feeding and cleaning, 3 people looked after the animals at the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary and 3 people looked after the animals at MonkeylandKZN. We worked everyday of the week for 8 weeks, and after 8 weeks, and during level 3, we brought a team member back from temporary lay-off. This freed us up a bit and allowed every team member 1 day off a week.

At the end of June, when hiking and exercising was made legal we decided to re-open Birds of Eden as a hiking trail. One of my duties at Birds of Eden was to do COVID 19 sanitisation checks in the park. This meant that I would walk through the aviary a few times during the day. I love multi-tasking so figured I would grab a camera and take some photographs while strolling through the bird sanctuary. Grabbing the camera for snapshots became a regular habit and I must admit it is now bordering on obsession. So, for me, there is positivity that came from the COVID lockdown. Who knew that I could take such decent photographs? Prior to COVID 19 I always depended on others to provide me with marketing photographs, I will now never be dependent on that again.

The other good news is that the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary re-opened to the public 2 weeks after Birds of Eden and Monkeyland re-opened on the 7th of August 2020. We plan to re-open MonkeylandKZN in September. Thankfully re-opening means that we can and have started to re-call staff. This is a great relief because many of my colleagues are the sole breadwinners in their families.

Getting tourist feet back to our sanctuaries is not an easy task. Many people have lost their jobs and most people have no spare cash for leisure activities, but we are hanging in there. We appreciate all our visitors and we appreciate every cent we make. It costs R600 000.00 a month to care for all the animals at the SAASA sanctuaries and we are blessed that we managed to survive (by using our savings) during this lockdown period.

Perseverance is key to survival. The people who work for the SAASA sanctuaries will remain positive, creative, and keen to make a difference to wild animal rights in tourism.

#SAASAvisit #HelpingWildlife #WeAreOpen #SeeYouSoon