Matriarchs of the Sand | Londolozi Blog

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Ryan James

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I am the Head of Development at Londolozi's not-for-profit partner organisation, the Good Work Foundation (GWF). GWF focuses on education, in particular helping people living in rural areas to connect to a new, digital Africa and all of its opportunities.

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on Matriarchs of the Sand

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Geri Potter
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Lovely account of such magnificent animals! As I sit here in Massachusetts, with sub zero temps and a foot of powdery snow, it is wonderful to daydream about the ‘ellies’ at Londolozi and our encounters with them in 2011. They appeared silently, magically around us, grazing, as we watched the Tsalala cubs play and then, just as silently, they disappeared into the undergrowth. They appeared through the foliage as we lazed on our patio at tree camp, snatching bits and pieces, tromping through the mud, but we never heard them coming! It was always such a treat! Love them! Thank you for the FABULOUS pictures!

Ryan James
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Hi Geri. Thanks for commenting. It is truly amazing how silent elephants can be and I agree, it doesn’t matter how many times you see elephants, it’s always a treat! On this particular afternoon we were out with Dean Smithyman and legendary tracker, Elmon Mhlongo. Elmon has been working in the bush for over 30 years, but still has a genuine and careful respect for the space that these giants should be given. There’s a really great video of Elmon and Dean called “The Tracker and The Banker” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMJcjCqnErg. Thanks again – and please keep warm. We have seen the USA weather reports and don’t envy you.

Jill Grady
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Thanks Ryan, I loved the photos and the narrative! Elephants are such incredible animals and I was lucky enough to get to spend a few afternoons in September watching them come right in below our deck at Tree Camp. It was amazing to be able to observe them so close up.

Ryan James
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Watching a group of elephants from Tree Camp deck. I don’t think there are many things better than that 🙂

Jen
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Beautiful photos and a fabulous write up – thank you for sharing!

MJ
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The guide we had for the live safari drives, Marc, was an ellie person. He would sit and tell us everything he had learned and experienced about ellies.. They are magnificent, intelligent creatures, and very protective of their families.. If you listen and learn the language of the ellies, you will find yourself in a much safer position.. They need respect for what they see as their space. Thank you for sharing.. Love the Londolozi blogs…

Ryan James
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Thanks MJ. I have been visiting the Kruger National Park since I was a small boy and my parents always taught me to “mind my manners” around elephant, buffalo and rhino. I agree, they certainly deserve respect for their space.

Carol Robinson
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So true, so special and thank you for sharing this crossing with us … Eles are my favourites – beautiful interpretation 🙂

Ryan James
Member
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Thank you Carol 🙂 It was a truly memorable “crossing”!

Wendy Hawkins
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Beautifully put James, thank you! They are so special & with the incidents that have happened in Addo & KNP recently, I find it strange that people still feel that they “must” be in their faces, then wonder “why me”?? Oh humans will be the death of this Planet!!!!! 🙁

Ryan James
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Hi Wendy. I read that the two recent incidents in the Kruger involved Bulls in “musth” (a hormonal cycle in which a male elephant’s testosterone levels increase dramatically). This can cause abnormally aggressive behaviour. That’s why you and me both know it’s best to view elephants from a safe distance. I would advise tourists on self-drive safaris to try – as much as possible – to ensure that there is enough space for thier vehicle to move away should an elephant become aggressive. As Tracker Elmon Mhlongo said to us, “even after thirty years in the bush, you can’t always predict an elephant’s behaviour.”

Shirley
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Love the Blog, Beautiful pictures.

Suzanne Myers
Member
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What a wonderful site!!!! Thank-you!!

Judy Guffey
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Mahalo, Ryan. On the last morning drive with just Talley, Freddy and myself in the vehicle…we stopped and watched a breeding herd. To my absolute emotional pleasure after a few minutes they formed a cohesive group with a tiny one in the lead….and walked closely by the vehicle and enclosing it…touching all sides. Freddy (bless him) had my video camera and now I have that exceptional encounter to watch often (and I usually watch it once a day.) Ask Gogo…..she may remember when I told her about it and her comment was,”They knew” which made the whole thing even more special.

Ryan James
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Judy, that sounds incredible. Please share the video with me – I would love to watch it.

Joe Horn
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Ryan
How fortunate that your life involves healthy African wildlife relationships. Most of us only dream of such a life, pacifying our dreams as a child with Marlin Perkins in Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. More recently National Geographic and Animal Planet serve as our outlets. All grown up now and attempting to “give back”, my research reveals a real mixed bag of wildlife volunteer organizations. I am sure the vast majorities are legitimate, but it is difficult to determine which programs truly benefit wildlife and community. As informed amateur conservationists, we are not looking for cheetah walks or human interaction with lion cubs under the guise of repopulation efforts. Nor do I wish to ride an African elephant on a safari. Rather the goal is assisting a legitimate, non breeding wildlife rehabilitation center, animal sanctuary, or conservation project. I know legitimate is a relative term, but through your experience in the bush can you or one of your colleagues write a blog entry highlighting some volunteer opportunities in Africa? Yes, I know Africa is a huge continent, but a few reviews would be helpful. For example, Lola ya Bonobo and Ekolo ya Bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seem to operate a transparent bonobo sanctuary that provides bonobo rescue, rehabilitation, reintroduction, and conservation education initiatives benefiting wildlife and the community.
I learned of Londolozi through CNN and subscribed to the blog. It opened up a new world of knowledge for me and other readers. I cannot think of a better trip than a safari with eco enthusiasts at Londolozi and volunteering for South African wildlife and the surrounding community through appropriate, beneficial, sustainable, and healthy community opportunities. Your input is valued and appreciated.

Ryan James
Member
Guest

Hi Joe. You comments are so insightful. The famous American life coach, Martha Beck, describes a new generation of “wayfinders” who are looking for genuine experiences that reconnect humans to wildlife and people: people who feel an internal call to heal an authentic part of the world. Londolozi invests heavily in that mission. Through our conservation efforts (we call it “restoring eden”) as well as our “human capital” efforts (http://www.londolozi.com/en/goodwork/) we are always looking to create initiatives that benefit wildlife and the community.

I will definitely investigate your question on volunteer opportunities in Africa. Please continue to share your thoughts on this subject. Thanks again.

Dawn James
Member
Guest

Lovely pictures Ryan, well done!

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