I'm very excited to introduce you to our newest Feline blogger, Erin Rainey. I first met Erin in 2012 when I was volunteering at Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia. Erin is a fellow Aussie who was living in Namibia and working on the research team at Harnas, and had formed a very close bond with many of the animals at the sanctuary. Erin's blog posts will detail her journey to and from Africa, the amazing relationships she formed with big cats, and the awesome things she accomplished in her 4.5 years there.
I was 23 and my first 'real' boyfriend had just dumped me whilst we were sitting on the couch watching Uncle Buck (Yes. Uncle Buck.). I thought my life as I knew it was over. Not over dramatic at all. I probably cried myself to sleep for months, torturing myself with all those incredibly unhealthy irrationalities that girls seem to love to perpetuate when suffering through a heartbreak.
I had one semester left of my Animal Science degree and my new found freedom presented me with a strong desire to run far, far away from home. Africa. I had always wanted to work with Big Cats. When I was a kid, all I wanted was a cat. Dad hated cats, so it didn't matter how much I begged or letters I wrote to Santa, I never got a kitty of my own*. So heading half way across the world to a third world country where OH&S is considered highly optional to work directly with 200+kg cats seemed like a natural progression. I signed up with a travel agency and they suggested a project in Namibia. Nambia? No, Namibia. I had never heard of Namibia but I was excited and booked for an 8 week placement. That was exactly what I needed. I'd get to fulfill a dream, maybe give this 'finding myself' thing a go and then I'd come back home with a one to two cool stories and a mended heart. Easy. I had it all planned out perfectly.
Africa, with all of her seductive charm, had a very different plan in mind.
*Mum and dad have been since adopted by a stray Birman that turned up on their doorstop. I swear they love the cat more than they do my brother and I combined.