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Barry Bath

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Barry grew up in Johannesburg and knew from a young age that he had a true love for the African bush yet it was only after spending several years in the corporate world in Europe, followed by a two year sabbatical of traveling ...

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on What Is The Biophilia Hypothesis And How To Experience It?

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What is my favorite places of solace in the wilderness? I go to a Safari Park near where I live. While there, I sit and relax with the lions in their large encampment. I go to the elephant valley and relax watching the herd with their little ones. For me, I do not go to see all the animals. I go and see what I feel calling me that day.

Hi Linda, it’s great to be in tune with one self and to hear what is calling you that day.

Senior Digital Ranger

Fascinating discussion! I think my favorite place to feel connected to nature and the development of hominids and early humans was Makapansgat. When I was living in South Africa and working in the bush studying the Bushveld, I used it for a while as a field station. Especially early in the morning, there is a sense of what early humans and pre-humans must have felt so many thousands of years ago. One more questions: I wonder if anyone has compared elephants’ childhood process of learning and humans’ childhood process of learning (e.g., Piaget)?

Hi Paul, I have yet to visit Makapansgat but have only heard good things about it. I know Piaget’s theory revolved around children interacting with their world and trying to experiment with the people and objects they come across as part of their development. I can definitely see similarities with this when watching young elephants so you may be on to something there.

Thank you for this very interesting article. As an ethologist I must say the mirror test is not a rule. There are many creatures that can’t rely on view like elephants and us but still have remarkable abilities. The problem-solving ability in animals is a honest indicator of animals intelligence (and this word is still not accepted by some “hard-thinking” behaviouists). Surely elephants are among the most amazing creatures to us , it is easier to understand their complexity. But what when we put a mirror in front of a sperm-whale, that is provided with the largest brain in the world and surely very clever? Now many studies concentrate on fish. I love elephants and look forward to experiencing biophilia in Londolozi!

Hi Francesca, I think there are many intelligent marine animals, however, I have not had the same opportunity to spend as much time with them as I have had with elephants. Hopefully some day soon I can spend some more time scuba diving and learn more about the animals found in our oceans as I think, as you have mentioned, they are fascinating animals.

Senior Digital Ranger

I love your elephant stories!

Thank you Debra!

We do enjoy viewing the elephants particularly around a water hole. Our favorite moments in the bush are finding a place to observe the Southern sky in the evening. A recent experience coasting down the airstrip at night with the engine off was magical as the stars seemed to move along with us.

Hi Vin, the southern sky is an amazing spectacle and one that I am particularly interested in. We look forward to welcoming you back to Londolozi and our airstrip soon!

I personally like to go and sit at a bird hide or next to a dam in stillness.. Soaking up the experience of the connection. Humans are made to have a connection with nature and to look after it.
On the Elephant beings.. Hannah Mumby’s book “Elephants” is a good read.

Hi Gawie, thanks for the book recommendation, I will certainly be looking for it. Few places better than a bird hide to find some peace and stillness.

My favorite place of solace in the wilderness is sitting in my car at one of the Waterholes I the Park. There you can connect to nature and watch the animals come and drink and enjoy standing in the water and the elephants usually play in the water. Wild animals in nature gives me such peace of mind, knowing they are protected by the Rangers and they can do what comes natural to them in their environment.

Hi Valmai, elephants and waterholes are a great combination for some excellent game viewing!

Beautiful Barry, thank you.

Barry good stuff here. I recently saw a documentary whereby the offspring would not leave a deceased elephant for several hours while the herd continued to move towards water. Then a male came back from the moving herd and was able to communicate it was time to leave and that the grief needed to take a back seat to continuing survival of the living and a powerful reminder of the their social order and intelligence. Amazing animals

Hi Andrew and Daniel, I’m sure that was a heart wrenching moment for any observers of that sighting. Elephants are indeed amazing animals!

Barry, I find solace in nature everywhere I go. The plains of Colorado, the Rocky Mountains, the lush Great Smokey mountains, the beaches near the ocean. I seek these places to renew and refresh my mind and soul. The natural state of everywhere seems to do the trick.

Hi William, I’ve spent many days in the aspen forests of Colorado; a truly incredible state.

What parts of Colorado did you see? I am heading back this week after 5 years in California. Just in time for elk rut and will also see lots of bighorn sheep!!

Hi Cindy, I spent 3 winters working in Beaver Creek. Spent a bit of time in California too. Easily my two favorite states in the US.

I used to work on a 70,000 acre ranch in Colorado, USA. I would go out in the evenings and sit at the edge of a large grassland and watch bison, elk, deer and antelope. It was the best part of the day, always.

Hi Cindy, that sounds like a dream to be on such a big piece of land in Colorado with all of those animals.

Senior Digital Ranger

What a thoughtful and thought provoking post, Barry! Definitely the African Bush begs for a re-connection to nature. Since I can’t be there often I find water always offers me a connection whether it be lakes, rivers, ponds or the oceans. A definitive place in the US to inspire awe with animal life for me is Yellowstone National Park–the land, the game, the Big Sky and the commitment to all things nature is truly exceptional…summer or winter!

Hi Camille, Yellowstone is still on my bucket list. I can’t wait to visit one day.

Senior Digital Ranger

Oh Barry, I was in tears at the description of the elephants helping the disfigured elephant drink by helping her. And the other elephant smelling and turning the skull that he’d come across. I absolutely adore elephants and am humbled by their sense of family and towering intelligence. Thank you for sharing your deep knowledge of these amazing beasts in such a moving and deeply sensitive way.

Hi Linda, I’m happy you enjoyed the blog post!

Barry this is a thought provoking blog. I have to say that the ellies – especially the younguns bring a smile to my face and a warm feeling in my heart. They are incredible animals and I do believe very intelligent. The way they protect each member of their herd is an amazing thing. I have never been to Africa (unfortunately) but my favourite place to reflect on life is deep in a forest or on a nature trail. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Hi Leonie, elephants are truly incredible and I implore you to one day visit Africa. There are few experiences in the world that can rival sitting within a herd of elephants or hearing the roar of a lion while sitting around the campfire at night.

Marvelous piece on my favorite – the ellies! My very favorite place in the world is within an elephant herd at Londolozi. I can sit there for hours, and cry. I cry for them and the planet, for lost humanity and found mystery, for the poached and the lonely and the hunted and the sick. I cry for joy. And if one is very quiet and open, one can read their thoughts, and they yours:-)

Hi Linda, they really are special species. I’m glad to hear you enjoy them as much as I do.

Great article Barry.

Digital Tracker

Such a wonderful article!

Really interesting article Barry, and so much to consider when viewing any animal, but especially elephants. I find my primary solace in the wildness is usually Africa, where there are so many animals to view. Where I live my main source of solace is to watch the behavior of an Eastern Gray Squirrel, either on his own or with a “friend”. They chatter with one another, engage in races along the fence top or up in the redwood tree, providing endless minutes of entertainment. They’re actually rather selfish stealing food from one another. They’re smart, knowing to come to the back door for a peanut or two. They’re not tame, purely wild but fascinating to watch, especially when they remove the top of a tin can that holds bird seed, fastened with a metal strap across the can. Clever!

Hi Denise, thanks for sharing that info on the Eastern Gray Squirrel…sounds very clever indeed. Look forward to welcoming you back on your next trip to Londolozi.

Really enjoyed your article Barry. Elephants are certainly very special in their deep connection to both the living and the dead. Anywhere in the African bush brings me peace but I do love the hour before and after sunset when the sounds of the bush change. Very special

Hi Cally, you’re right the sounds of the bush around those times is truly a spectacle to behold. The dawn chorus of birds chirping is one of my favorite moments of the day.

Barry, What a wonderful educational and emotional story. Elephants are such amazing and intelligent creatures! We are guessing that you spent that morning sunrise at Ximpalapala! Having climbed to the top of that special koppie on multiple occasions to watch the sun set, it is the kind of visual and emotional experience that we use to help us drift off to sleep on nights when our brains will not turn off!

Hi Michael & Terri, it is indeed Ximpalapala koppie. It is a special place to witness the start or the end of the day, I’m happy you’ve had the opportunity to experience it first hand.

Elephants are great! thank you! Victoria

Thanks for this post Barry. In the past there were many places and experiences of nature and travel; from the Amazon, Hawaiian Beaches to the Alps. These days I’m lucky if I can get peaceful half hour! 😂 But what I do have are the memories (and a lot of photos) allowing me a different type of travel.

Hi Marcia, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the places you’ve mentioned and they are all such amazing places and I too have many photos and memories of them. Hopefully you’re able to join us at Londolozi soon to make some new memories here too.

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