Category Archives: Human Wildlife Coexistence

Heritage

I have been reflecting on Heritage a lot this month. Heritage can be defined as something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor, something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth or simply, tradition.

As yet another Covid-19 lockdown forces me and mine into this weird isolation and I think about how to fill my time, I have baked and cooked and begun traditional prep of Christmas a lot earlier than I normally would. This is me falling back on family heritage, tapping into inherited ritual and tradition to help me feel anchored at this time of ongoing uncertainty.

Granny Sybil’s famous Christmas Mince.

I have been teaching online for the past 6 weeks or so. When I think about the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and its affect on this generation I worry about what they’ve inherited. Is it okay to spend this much time “online” to learn, to work, to socialise? While I can see how under these current circumstances it is better to have the technology than not, I do wonder what the long term outcomes of this will be on the emotional wellbeing of this generation.

Probably the biggest regret I have is that I am part of a generation who has left future generations a weary and depleted planet. Not completely broken, I hope, but thinking about heritage in this way keeps me highly motivated to make a change for sustainability in whatever ways I can.

24 September is an annual celebration of South African heritage. As a South African I have been profoundly influenced by my country’s natural and cultural heritage, for good and growth.

In a hopeful step, short term and long term, I have begun preparations to return to South Africa in 2022. I am thrilled to be joining the Rise of the Matriarch Expedition – an all-female adventure across South Africa to raise awareness and funds for the plight of Mama Africa’s wildlife. The ROTM crew will engage with local communities especially children on the human-wildlife issue and distribute Wonderful Wildlife Booklets (that I developed content for). We will connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools, and meet with incredible women who are doing remarkable things at a grassroots level to assist in conservation efforts.

Ecowarrior and founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, Carla Geyser, is the expedition leader of the 2022 Rise of the Matriarch Expedition .

In 2016, she led South Africa’s first all-female conservation expedition from Southern Africa to Kenya. They drove 15 787km over 100 days through 10 countries to help stem the tide of poaching. The crew of 13 “she-roes” raised nearly R300 000 for various conservation projects, drew widespread continental attention to elephant poaching crisis, distributed 20 000 conservation educational booklets to children and provided support to 37 wildlife organisations along the way.

In September 2018 she headed out again and lead another all-female crew. This time  across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to raise awareness about the contentious human-wildlife conflict. Another very successful Rise of the Matriarch expedition.

I joined Carla on a Journey with Purpose expedition in 2019 for a boots-on-the-ground experience with Elephants Alive. I can’t wait to get back on the road with Carla in her Landy, Dora, next year. #LadyinaLandy

And so, I introduce Pelo Tales. – my Heart Art fundraiser for this expedition.

“Pelo” is heart in Setswana.

My art is an expression of the deeply creative connection I have to pure spaces, to beauty and most especially to Nature. Each painting represents a Heart Moment and so a little Pelo Tale to accompany it.

This is a series of canvases I painted during Covid-19 related lockdowns in 2020. Having to make do with what I had to hand and in the spirit of sustainability, each canvas has been recycled. Perfect in their imperfections and certainly one of a kind.

All the proceeds from the sale of my Heart Art goes towards the Rise of the Matriarch expeditions 2022. More details on the fundraising side of things coming soon.

In the meantime, I will be sharing some Pelo Tales here over the coming weeks in anticipation of wonderful adventures to come and in the spirit of sharing the heritage I am so inexpressibly grateful for 🖤

August is for Elephants

I love elephants. These majestic beings know things about living on this earth…. the kinds of things I believe we have lost touch with in our mostly urban pursuits.

I have had the absolute privilege of sharing space with elephants. A couple of whom I have got to know quite well, I flatter myself.

They are as unique in character as we are. They have their good days and their bad just like us…. and I truly believe they have a sense of humour.

The photos above show one such ellie. A charming character who would share our Okavango Delta island a months each year while the marula fruit were around to enjoy. One day a tree came down over our office/storeroom scattering marula fruit throughout the little enclosed courtyard. As afternoon descended he approached the office, low rumbling to let us know he was there. Leaving me no time to vacate the office, he squeezed through a small gap between the buildings making his way into the little courtyard. He proceeded to find every single marula he could on the roof, on the ground, carefully maneuvering around this small enclosed space. After a half hour or so of foraging he made ready to leave through the same gap he had came through. This took him past the open office door where I was sitting quite still, overwhelmed by the moment. I hadn’t noticed the marula that had rolled on to the floor inside the office just a few feet from where I was sitting. He paused his head filling the door space. He lifted his trunk and sniffed, then turning his head slightly he gave a long look. It took probably just a moment but to me it was a MOMENT. Then quite calmly he pushed his whole head through the doorway into the office, reached out his trunk and took the marula fruit near my feet. A sideways movement to get his head back out the door, he took the gap between the buildings and melted into the twilight.

He was surrounded by humans and human structures that entire time. He knew we meant him no harm. He just wanted those delicious marula fruit.

I will remember that incredible moment as long as I live. A treasured memory I hold close.

To me a world without elephants is unthinkable. Unfortunately, they face ongoing challenges sharing a world with humanity.

Luckily I am not the only one who loves elephants. In fact, there is an incredible conservation collective who have dedicated their lives to elephant conservation.

This weekend on Saturday 8 August a first in elephant conservation is taking place – a virtual elephant collaring! From the comfort of your couch you can get a front row seat to experience what happens when elephant are fitted with radio collars to track their movement and gather valuable data to help in their protection and conservation. So exciting! I have booked my ticket! Will you?

Find all the information you need here – Virtual Elephant Collaring – this will let you know who is behind this awe-inspiring project, why it is necessary and how you can be a part of this world first! Get involved!

I don’t think that Carla from the Blue Sky Society, the brains behind this initiative, or Dr Michelle from Elephants Alive planned it this way but World Elephant Day is 12 August! Or perhaps they did. What a fitting way to celebrate all things elephant this year!

Conservation in Action

18 July…. Mandela Day. I love this quote from the great Madiba. For me, “others” includes all the living beings we share the planet with.

I am in the process of changing some website stuff around. Part of the master action list for Dream 1 in my dream tin 😊

I had not intended posting until the changes had been finalised. But an event is imminent that I just have to share.

If it weren’t for Covid-19, I would right this moment be road tripping my way across Botswana and South Africa on my way to Banhine National Park in Mozambique. The purpose of this journey to take part in a vital “boots on the ground” conservation mission to radio collar elephant – a journey with purpose.

While it is sad not to be able to embark on this adventure, I am so excited that the conservation collective – Elephants Alive, Wildlife Vets, Blue Sky Society and Painted Dog TV – behind this elephant conservation project are going ahead. On 8th August we can join them virtually!

From the comfort of home we can get a rare insight into what this work is like – what a conservation education opportunity!

I realise money is tight in the present circumstances. But a ticket for this once in a lifetime experience is not too dear. And the proceeds will allow elephant conservation of this kind to continue.

Here’s all the information you need:

Book tickets – https://www.quicket.co.za/events/105627-virtual-collaring/#/

Meet the amazing human behind this project – https://www.blueskysociety.org/

Follow Carla from Blue Sky Society on Facebook and Instagram

I’m in…. see you there 💙🐘💙

Wanderings Day 30

We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.

Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.

No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
Under African sky

Guka ‘mzimba (body grow old)

Sala ‘nhliziyo (but heart remain behind)

Wanderings Day 29

Only two more posts to go for this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

Two days of Kruger National Park memories… this is part one.

I was just looking down the list of rest camps in Kruger. It turns out over the many adventures there since childhood I have stayed at all but two.

My favourite area to wander would be from Satara northwards.

Pafuri is particularly magical with all those fever trees and glimpses of nyala in the shadows by the Luvuvhu River. That brings to mind the Nyala Walking Trail – sublime!

Actually any of Kruger’s walking trails are a fabulous experience. Lucky enough to have walked a few of these over the years too.

Kruger visits were so formative for me. I learned so much about ecology and how ecosystems work simply from soaking up all the info I could get my hands on. Here is where I fell in love with birds and took up birding under my wonderful Dad’s guidance.

Kruger has a distinct spirit of place. The air crackles with its magic as you arrive at the gate (any of the gates). I thought this might change over the years, grow dim somehow as I aged. But no. I got to visit again last year briefly and the magic is still there.

Now I probably need to say at this point that I am fully aware of Kruger’s history. Not all decisions made in regard to its management both for wildlife and for the surrounding communities have been sound or just over the years.

All I want to focus on right at this moment in time is the gratitude I feel for having had so many opportunities to pass through Kruger’s gates and get swallowed up in that bushveld magic.