I do not often write for the blog but occasionally an event occurs thats beauty and significance reverberates so deeply through me that I feel compelled to share it and my thoughts about it.
A few nights ago I found myself sitting in the late afternoon light at Marthly Pool. Many people who have been to Londolozi will remember this pristine spot for the towering Ebony trees and the bent Albizia that arches out over the waterhole. Opposite on a sandy beach the land rises steeply into a rocky koppie and in the afternoon the white and rust coloured rocks are lit up by the glow of the setting sun. In its summer garb the pool is beautiful, water lilies line the surface and a variety of herons and fireflies are always present at dusk.
A group of us from the lodge had arrived early to prepare the spot for one of our famous Londolozi bush braais. Upon arrival we had noticed a pair of wallowing buffalo bulls sleeping on the far side of the pool. With the waterhole acting as a natural barrier they were completely unperturbed by our presence.
A few moments later we looked up to see a small breeding herd of elephants including a tiny calf approaching for a drink. Watching their body language we could see that while aware of our presence they were very relaxed. We continued with our business and they came down and began to drink. The small calf wadded into the water and seemed to take huge delight in plunging his head under the water. Right at that moment we turned around to see a huge rhino bull had approached us from behind. His horn appeared out of the bush about ten meters away from us and as we remained still he made his way down to the waterhole. For a moment he contemplated lying down for a wallow but then decided to rather continue his journey to the northern side of the pool.
I should contextualize here and say that the rains have come and there are puddles of water all over the property. Our presence at Marthly Pool was in no way a hindrance to thirsty animals. We are thoughtful about things like that. I should also say that both the rhino and the elephants approached us and were at all times calm and relaxed, if they had shown the slightest anxiety we would have of course given them space but under these circumstances the best thing to do was remain quiet and respectfully still.
The moment was thrilling. To be accepted by these three inspiring species of the African wilderness at a time when they are under such threat, had a profound impact on my heart. The rhino population at Londolozi is stable and safe, even as they are persecuted in the hundreds by poachers a few kilometers to our east in the Kruger National Park.
Elephants in the thousands are being removed from the great plains of East Africa! And yet, here at Londolozi, on a December afternoon in 2014 an interspecies moment of peaceful being took place – so simple, so profoundly important.
This encapsulated for me in a single moment: a place where people and animals can co-exist in wild respectful kinship.
The interaction represented a microcosm for me of what can be achieved if we open to restoring our connection with nature.
The innate humility and joy that comes alive in a man or woman when they are close to one of these maginificent creatures….
Is to be enchanted in the spirit.
It is to belong…
…and to be an example of a place where humans and animals have awakened to the ancient state of harmony they once lived in.
Written by: Boyd Varty
Filmed by: Boyd Varty & Koelle Simpson