Game for African ad­ven­tures

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

AN­DREA Crompton gave Mark Jen­nings an ul­ti­ma­tum when he pro­posed to her.

‘‘I said ‘If you take me to Africa then we’ll get mar­ried’,’’ Ms Crompton says.

Mr Jen­nings ful­filled his end of the bar­gain.

But among all of the ad­ven­tures they have found them­selves on, mak­ing it to the al­tar has never quite fit into their plans.

The Grey Lynn cou­ple lived side-by-side with ele­phants while vol­un­teer­ing at a game re­serve in South Africa, trav­elled for weeks on the back of a truck from Vic­to­ria Falls to Nairobi and stood inches away from wild go­ril­las in the jun­gles of Uganda.

It’s a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Ms Crompton says.

‘‘I’d go back in a heart­beat. See­ing ele­phants and go­ril­las so close like that – it’s sur­real.’’

They have made two trips to Africa in the decade since Mr Jen­nings popped the ques­tion and are still yet to tie the knot.

The ad­ven­tur­ous pair has cre­ated Game Drive, a board game in­spired by their time ex­plor­ing the con­ti­nent to help sup­port con­ser­va­tion ef­forts there.

It sees play­ers be­come con­ser­va­tion­ists work­ing in south­ern Africa, trav­el­ling to re­serves and sight­ing the an­i­mals known as the Big Five – lions, leop­ards, ele­phants, rhi­nos and buf­faloes.

Vol­un­teer­ing in Africa wasn’t ex­actly on Mr Jen­nings’ bucket list be­fore they met.

‘‘I’d never even thought about go­ing to Africa so it was quite an ad­ven­ture.’’

Hav­ing a ‘‘cud­dle’’ with a newly-res­cued three-mon­thold ele­phant was a high­light for them both.

‘‘I fol­lowed An­drea’s lead as I nor­mally do and it was just lovely,’’ Mr Jen­nings says.

A ter­ror­ist threat nearly halted their plans to take an over­land trip to Kenya but noth­ing was go­ing to stop Ms Crompton from ful­fill­ing a life-long dream, she says.

Dur­ing their time in The Gam­bia, keep­ers were forced to move a rhino that had wan­dered into an­other male’s ter­ri­tory and the cou­ple helped pre­pare it for trans­port.

‘‘When two male rhi­nos come to­gether within their ter­ri­tory they will fight to the death. It was in­cred­i­ble to see the rhino darted and then moved off.’’

Rhi­nos in in­de­pen­dent game re­serves are un­der the threat of poach­ing. A per­cent­age of the prof­its from sales of the cou­ple’s board game will go to­wards the Rhino Pro­tec­tion Trust as a way of giv­ing back to the con­ti­nent. They hope to re­turn to Africa next year.

Ad­ven­tur­ous cou­ple: Mark Jen­nings and An­drea Crompton had a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Africa.

Board sa­fari: The cou­ple has cre­ated a board game based on their ex­pe­ri­ences in Africa donat­ing a per­cent­age of the prof­its to the Rhino Pro­tec­tion Trust.

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