All posts filed under: Africa

Through the Eyes of an African Elephant

As published on Jabulani > When an African elephant is born, it is completely blind… It relies on its other senses to navigate its strange new world from between its herd’s legs. As its eyesight develops, allowing it to seek out delicious soft green shoots and ripe Amarula fruit, and ‘keep an eye’ on other calves, the eyes remain small – relative to its size; it is, after all, the largest living land animal. They provide only moderate vision. Even with its tiny eyes, it remains one of the world’s most intelligent animals – described by Aristotle as “the animal that surpasses all others in wit and mind.” How it navigates its world and creates its complex inner life is through their sense of touch, hearing and smell, senses that humans have become much less adept at in comparison. In the dry season in the wild, elephants travel vast distances to track down new sources of water and food, but they are far more likely to smell or hear the water than to see it. Originally they roamed as far …

Buffy the Lion Slayer

Published for Jabulani. Read the post here > The Unexpected Camaraderie of the African Buffalo We’ve all had an itch we couldn’t scratch… Perhaps, desperately, when battling a tickle on your nose or foot, when your hands are tucked away under a cloak at the hairdressers, or wrapped around heavy shopping bags, while walking to the car. Twitch your nose or shake your toes all you like, the itch just gets more tenacious. Didn’t you ever wish for that third arm, a tail, or personal assistant maybe? The African buffalo has just that – a flock of assistants, named oxpeckers. These clever little birds spend their days in all the inaccessible places that even a tail can’t reach, cleaning and combing and picking. They clean the wax out of the buffalo’s ears and peck on ticks and other parasites. They clean wounds and even scar tissue. They also act as an early warning system and hiss at approaching danger. How delightful it would be to have our own oxpecker! Buffalo the Lion Slayer Lions are …

A Creep of Tortoises

A Blog for Jabulani. Read the post here > “Oh, a very useful philosophical animal, your average tortoise. Outrunning metaphorical arrows, beating hares in races… very handy.” – Terry Pratchett Strategy, that’s what’s needed. In order to be there at the end of the race, you need a strategy. To be a participant in the race of life requires a well-conceived plan. And so the tortoise grew a shell. Of course, in that amazing, fun, random and seemingly experimental way that nature has, tortoise shells come in a multitude of shapes, colours, patterns and sizes. Some have flaps and hinges and some are made in a 3D printer. South Africa, and in particular the Cape Province, has the richest diversity of tortoises in the world. In our reserve at Jabulani and in the Great Kruger Park region, it’s mostly leopard tortoise that we encounter, as well as some hinged tortoises and the cape and serrated Terrapins (freshwater tortoises). The leopard tortoise is a member of the not-as-famous Little Five… They are so-named because of their rosette-patterned shells. Unique to …

My Chemical Romance

Written for Jabulani, published here: The Silent Language of Elephants & Other Animals ~ The Jacobson Organ Making Sense of Elephants We’ve always known that elephants relied on their Big 5 senses of taste, sight, hearing, smell and touch in different ways – senses that are essential to everyday animal life, that complement one another and help them to track down fresh new grass and leaves to munch on. Senses that are used in search of ripe marulas and underground water in the dry season, that are vital in the all-important struggle to remain safe from predators, to hear the give-away rustle and detect that invisible lion in a wind-carried warning. But these animals have a sixth sense too… One that is used in those most important of pursuits – love, romance and procreation. Animals communicate through chemical or olfactory methods, such as through pheromones. Chemicals that provide information and deliver several messages, pheromones are released in various bodily fluids, such as sweat, urine, secretions from elephant’s temporal glands and in dung. To decipher these …

The Songs of the Zambezi ~ Royal Chundu

So proud to be part of this sensational Zambezi music video collaboration! Read more about this New Project by Royal Chundu & EC Bling here > and read our post, from Royal Chundu below. A Royal Chundu music video collaboration ~ “Zambezi” by local Zambian musician, Eric Choonga, aka EC Bling. As part of our hopes and purpose to create a platform for local artists and other local producers and suppliers through Royal Chundu, we bring you another talented Zambezi resident, our own lodge security guard and longtime music-maker… Eric Choonga aka EC Bling! Eric lives in the Malambo village right next to the lodge on the banks of the Zambezi River. He’s been singing since he was a child. In fact his grandmother tells of how the family used to tell him to be quiet when he was younger. He was just always singing. Natural talent and passion like that can never be erased. It lives inside the artist for life. Eric acknowledges that music is not traditionally seen as a serious, good or …

Lessons in Starry Skies

Published here for Royal Chundu > “A still more glorious dawn awaits, not a sunrise but a galaxy-rise, a morning filled with 400 billion suns, the rising of the milky way.” ~ Carl Sagan There is nothing quite like gawking up at the dark African sky to put us in our place. It’s when we realise not only how little we are and how little we know, but that what we know is not true. The stars in our African sky appear to twinkle, but they don’t. They appear to form meaningful patterns, but they don’t. They look as though we could reach out and touch them. And yet… It’s all about light. Light is made up of individual particles called photons that journey in waves from the sun to our Earth in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. Light from our next closest star, Proxima Centauri would take roughly 4.22 light-years to reach Earth. What we see when we stare up at stars is what they were light-years ago. We are looking back in time, …

Nourishment for a Nation on the Rise ~ Zimbabwe’s Mpala Jena Camp

  The flames swayed and swirled in a drum beside us. Hippos went about their evening romp, on the grass on the Zambezi’s riverbank below. Golden hour had slipped past and storytelling had taken over. We had spent the first day of our safari at Mpala Jena Camp, in a private concession in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe, taking it all in: the giant baobab we stopped the vehicle for so that I could slip out the wide lens to capture the tree’s mammoth girth. The giraffes we sat with for longer than usual, watching them devour natural salt licks, legs splayed in their awkward downward-giraffe pose, tongues flopping between mud and nostril. The skinny baby baboons, scuttering up and down stumps and flinging their bodies courageously from branch to branch in the tallest heights of the mopane trees, sausage trees, marula trees and ilala palms.     We’d spent the last hours of the day’s light following jostling elephants and their calves kicking up dust across the dirt paths of the reserve like line-dancers at …

Wellness Lessons from the Wild ~ Great Plains Conservation

  Sitting with Lara Delafield, Wellness Consultant for the Great Plains Conservation’s beautiful camps and lodges across Africa, I watch the words fall from her lips like petals from a wildflower in the wind. Petals so beautiful and intricate and complex that I gaze at each one, rapt by their individual and united beauty. Listening to her words as she talks about what wellness means to her, something in me changes. Our discussion about the philosophy of Zarafa Camp and Duba Plains Camp in Botswana, Mpala Jena Camp in Zimbabwe, and Mara Plains Camp and ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya, leads us into the woods, the wild woods, and I feel as though I am sitting on my deck watching the curious waterbuck and peculiar topi, the wildebeest herds and hippo pods, the swimming elephants and tree-climbing leopards.     Our discussion turns quickly to ourselves, because Lara’s words are universal. They apply as much to a guest in a lodge in the Okavango as to two women in a city coffee shop or a …

The Deep Peace of a Place Called Epako ~ A Namibian Safari

  “The first thing I hope to do as a guide is get guests to understand the importance of animals,” Hendrik says as we walk through the reserve on an April morning at Epako Safari Lodge. This is my first time in Namibia. I say it on the first day, the second, the third and the fourth, and I’ll say it now: I have never known such peace in a wildlife reserve. There are many reasons for the feeling of calm and stillness here, at the foot of the red cliffs of the Erongo Mountains, in Omaruru, and one of them is guide, Hendrik Adams. His nature, his kindness, his mindfulness.     We continue walking, looking at our feet, at the gravel passing beneath them, the odd track of an animal that has walked the path before us, and looking out at the immense openness between the low mountain slopes. The occasional giraffe neck calls our attention. “I want guests to leave Epako with that awareness of the importance of animals, to take it …

Be Still, My Beating Heart ~ The Peace of Esiweni

  “The light of oneness is available to all of us, present in hidden aquifers where life’s waters continue to flow, waiting in a living silence for us to notice.” ― Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Pemba has the biggest, most constant smile I’ve ever seen on a guide. It’s one of the things I remember most about our safari in the Nambiti, at Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge in South Africa. On our game drives through the reserve, we’d talk now and again, and then lull back into a content quiet in the warmth of the day, beside giraffe moving across the open plains (be still, my beating heart), or black rhinos browsing and lions drinking from shallow pools.     In the silence, we’d look over at each other and smile. I saw Pemba’s smile more often than I heard him talk. And talking was no problem for him. His beaming face simply took over, recognising the need for quiet, while communicating all there was to communicate. And I understood each message, each unspoken sentiment. How fortunate we …