safariLIVE viewer Darlene Bond, better known as Bush Mum, has become a valued community member on our YouTube channel. She interacts with other chatters, sends in comments and questions, and answers questions about our wonderful wild world. What makes her qualified to do the last of these is that Darlene really is a bush mum. The safarian fosters wild animals, helping them heal and stay wild enough to survive upon their release. She sent in this contribution to our Viewer Profile series.

I owe safariLIVE a huge debt of gratitude. My beloved husband, Graham, passed away 3 years ago and I gave up on living. I stopped all work we had done with wildlife and retreated into my shell. Then I found safariLIVE and I had a reason to get up in the morning. Thank you a thousand times safariLIVE, the guides, the cameramen and the ladies behind the scenes as well as all the chatters who have become good friends.

Baby serval

To share a bit of my background and what I’m now doing, I spent every holiday since I was 7 years old in the Kruger Park and have always had a passion for wildlife. I started rescuing anything that needed rescuing from frogs to birds at an early age.

Full of fire.

I married and have one daughter and two grandsons. As soon as my husband and I could, we moved into the bush, where we both worked with wildlife. I lost my husband 3 years ago but I still live on the 30 acre property that we bought in the middle of the bush.

I am a teacher and did everything that teachers do but I spent all my free time working with animals and did a lot of work with various vets. Have done a fair amount of acting on stage and thoroughly enjoyed it (I think that’s why I appreciate James so much). I also have a FGASA qualification but have never had the time to do any serious guiding so I find myself very rusty.

Baby white-tailed mongoose.

I joined a voluntary conservation group many years ago and am now chairman of the local group near where I live. We are involved in anything and everything to do with conservation. It is a small group and we each have our various favorite tasks. Some do alien vegetation control, and removal of snakes from chicken runs and houses and some, the all important, fund raising (we need money to pay the vet for his services). I’m mostly concerned with rescuing wildlife injured or orphaned due to poaching, sorting out problem animals and anti-poaching work. A big part of our work is education and we take children into the bush and expose them to the wonders of nature.

So adorable.

We had to dart and relocate a zebra stallion that had fallen in love with a farmer’s prize Arab mares as he was becoming a perfect pest, trap and relocate a huge bush pig that was terrorising residents in a housing complex and trap and relocate a very big crocodile in a farm dam. These are just a few cases of problem animals in the area.

Oribe, very rare antelope, damaged leg needed massage.

Poaching is a very big problem and we actively set out to arrest poachers. We patrol regularly and sit in ambush. This is dangerous as these poachers are armed however we’ve managed some arrests. The poachers in this area are wealthy and engage in poaching as a sport. They use snares, guns, cross bows and dogs. Sadly most animals are left where they have been killed and we find the carcasses.

Barn owl

My favorite part of the work is the rescue and release of the ones that are orphaned or injured. Rearing a baby antelope is very expensive as they drink a huge amount of milk for example nyala drink 5 to 6 litres (10.5 to 12.5 pints) of milk a day before they are weaned.

Some of the animals I have reared and released are nyala, impala, duiker, owls, many other birds, serval, mongoose, wildebeest, oribi (little antelope), caracal, zebra, pythons, crocodiles, monitor lizards. I only intervene if their plight is due to man e.g. poaching, vehicle accidents etc. The heartbreaking part of all this is to find an animal that is beyond help and has to be shot for example some of the zebras we find in wire snares.

Baby zebra caught in a snare, later released.

My only regret is that I don’t have another 50 years to do this work. If I did I think I’d give the teaching a miss and plunge full time into caring for wildlife. Thank you again to safariLIVE for giving me the will to go on and the hope that I will once again be able to afford to visit the Kruger Park, my favorite place in all the world.

Darlene, it is an honour to count you as a member of our safariLIVE family. Thank you for the work you do, WE are sure the animals that have been given second chances are grateful too.

If you have an interesting story to tell about your #safariLIVE or WildEarth experience, and would like to be featured in a future #safariLIVE Viewer Profile, contact us with your contributions, photo and video submissions at . You could be interviewed next!