“It seems like our bond with animals is deeply rooted in our psyches and we need them just as much as we need wild open spaces. We don’t need them just because they are pleasant- we need them for our own psychological survival. At a deep level a land without life, without creatures, is deeply disturbing.” – Craig Foster
The finding and viewing of the Mother leopard is well documented and was a momentous moment in Londolozi’s history, where a relationship began between man and a very shy and elusive animal. Despite her wariness, she was one of the first animals to truly allow us a window into her secret life but the true importance of Londolozi’s story is that she was only the beginning.
The original viewable leopard of Londolozi, if not Africa. In 1979 this leopard appeared as if by magic, allowing vehicles to view her.
The Mother Leopard was the chink through which we saw the light and from there our vision expanded to a window revealing the extent to which we could relate to all living beings.
It was through our relationship with this one creature that we were able to develop a relationship with them all.
From the giant elephants and giraffes that roam the landscape to the tiny termites and bees that sustain it and fundamentally shift it. We see the importance and purpose of each of these and we celebrate this daily by falling in line with nature’s rhythm and finding ourselves an integral part in it.
The relationship with the Mother Leopard showed that there was a viable way for man and beast to live together in harmony and it showed us the importance of creating a sanctuary for them to live. But what we have realised is that in so doing, we created a sanctuary for ourselves too.
A place where we can remember what it truly means to be human in its purest sense; what it feels like to be wild and free and how it is that we form an intricate piece in a puzzle so much greater and yet no more important than ourselves.
We look at these animals and feel gratitude that they have allowed us into their space, when in fact their pure presence and acceptance around us is actually serving to show us that this is our place too. We belong here as much as they do, cradled in this landscape, amongst these beasts with spirits as wild and free as theirs.
The Mother Leopard opened the door and when we walked through it, we discovered a humming, thriving wilderness that we formed a natural and real part of. In allowing this land to heal and the animals to return, we in return healed ourselves.
In celebration of these relationships and for the second phase of our 90th birthday we decided to create and dedicate a growing memoir to the animals that it all began with. We’ve dusted off the old slides and sifted through decade-old flip files. We reconnected with old friends who re-lived their memories in ancient reels and hard drives and who shared them with us. The result is that for the first time ever, four decades of never-before-seen leopard information now has one home.
This space will grow and change as we continue to gather and share information; a meeting place for all those who love and revere these creatures. We thank all those guides, trackers, staff and guests who followed, respected and documented the lives of these cats and came forward to share their memories with us. And so with that we would like to present our 90th birthday gift to all of you, the friends and family of Londolozi and her leopards. Enjoy.