Madagascar: Part Three: Training for the Jungle

Taken with the Olympus T5 Tough

By Jenny Carew

To prepare for our time in the jungle, I joined the Chester Zoo team for multiple training sessions. These made sure that we were ready and equipped to live in the rainforest for 10 days.

Over the course of a few weeks we met up for different training sessions, including healthcare, equipment and practical skills. The World Travel Clinic gave a great talk about what we may need to look out for. Diseases such as Malaria, Rabies and Polio can be caught, so it is important to be aware of possible life threatening illnesses.  

First Aid

Our first aid session ensured that we knew what to do in a medical emergency. Due to remote locations, it’s fair to say there would be no medical help for miles around. It would be up to us to respond to any immediate crises!

Equipment

For our second training session, we got to know the equipment better. From range finders to GPS units, every member of the team learnt how to be competent with the equipment, should we be required to step in with the work. Our training helped us understand waypoints and range finders that play a key role in data collections back at camp to identify the movements of animals.

Team Building

One of my favourite team building exercises was training in Delamere. Days out together were particularly important – especially as we were about to spend 14 days together in Madagascar with technical equipment! Whilst walking in the forest it was the perfect time to get to know members of the group who we hadn’t spoken to yet.

I was in a group with Nicola, Phil and Neil. Becca, Julia and Dave were in the other group. We had created a competition to see who could observe and record the most wildlife and to meet back at a certain point in the woods after the allotted time. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun and the teams got very competitive! It was a great day out. The winning team earned themselves a drink at the local pub and before we knew it we only had one training session left.   

As I pulled up to Chester Zoo for the last meeting The One Show were filming at the Zoo. I squeezed through the cluster of TV vans and headed over to the building to find the expedition team laying out tents and gear in a meeting room.

With all the health and practical training done – the only thing left to do was to split the array of equipment between us all to pack in our luggage.

We distributed the tents, binoculars and lenses which we were to keep in our hand luggage and ticked off the sheets to check out the kit.

That was it. We would soon be on our way. We shuffled the paper together and zipped up the bags.

“See you at the airport, then!” we all smiled. It marked the end of the training… now the real work was about to begin.

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