Sitting with the Xidulu female leopard’s two cubs the other day, I was struck by what was for me such a beautiful and reassuring moment. We had found the two youngsters playing rambunctiously on a fallen, dead Marula, in the most perfect, rich, summer morning light. Dew still hung to the tall grass tips and James and I sat in silence watching them stalk each other through the long grass, leaping onto various obstacles and finally collapsing down to rest on the warm, dark soil. As we sat there I found myself flooded with happiness at watching these creatures so at home in themselves, each other and the environment around them. I can recognise that this is me projecting human ideas onto the scene I witnessed but it just seems to me that animals in the wild would never question their sense of belonging, something we as humans tend to grapple with pretty regularly.
During that sighting I had this sense of being pulled from my body and zooming out to see how it was that we looked in that scene. From high above our vehicle I could see how we and the Land Rover melted into the environment around us. It seemed to me that we fitted and belonged in that scene just as much as the koppies to our north, the meandering Sand River next to us, the lush green landscape surrounding us and those very same leopards playing in front of us. I think so many people come on safari thinking that they’re coming to watch animals almost as separate spectators but I don’t believe this to be the case. We’re drawn to this wilderness because it is our home too.
We naturally do belong here. This land is infinitely welcoming and our sense of home and comfort in it is just a sign that our true natures do belong.
Of course we work hard to keep these wide and wild open spaces for animals to roam freely in their natural habitat but my feeling is that these wild open spaces are just as important for us to roam freely and see ourselves as we truly are.
My hope for you is that when you visit Londolozi, you don’t see this as a break from the busyness and mania of the city and your everyday life but rather as a return to home, to a place you truly belong.