Weekend Argus News – 11th December, 2011
On 4th June, 2003 baby Argente, was born to Honi the buffalo herd leader: the first buffalo to be born on the Cape Peninsula in more than 330 years. The buffalos were introduced to Solole game reserve by a man of vision and passion, who believed human population expansion is taking up too much of the earth and he wanted to preserve some for the animals. So what started as a one-hectare plot in suburban Sunnydale, near Fish Hoek, has grown into a 300ha reserve for antelope and buffalo.
The Solole reserve is opposite Masiphumelele, extending into the Roodeberg mountains. Driving through the urban sprawl, it’s difficult to believe there could be buffalo living there. Living on the edge of Solole is a dream come true, I have always wanted to live on the edge of a waterhole in a game reserve, but I could not afford to do so and support myself. Now I live here and have the best of both worlds. Buffalos have a reputation for being cantankerous, but they are actually very social, tactile and intelligent. Each buffalo is unique, each has its own personality. Shaggy is my favorite, she will always leave the herd and walk straight towards me if I am around, just to say hello. She is also a successful mother. The herd now numbers ten.
Sadly financial plans at Solole have not been successful and the buffalos have been sold, possibly to a man who has recently been released on bail for rhino poaching. It would be sad to see them leave for good and we are concerned that they will be travelling to a breeding center in the Northern province hundreds of kilometers away, squashed together for a long road journey in the intense December heat.
If you would like to see at least some of the buffalos stay in the Cape an urgent financial investment is required: their due departure date is only 2 days away – Tuesday, 13th December, 2011. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to keep the buffalo in the Cape.
As you know, on my journey to becoming an EcoPsychologist, I begun observing animals with social behavior 21 years ago. As a result several conservation issues have been heartfelt, more recently the departure of the buffalos who have become welcome visitors on the doorstep of my home bordering Solole game reserve.
To know more about this journey with the animals and other current wildlife tragedies read further.
I began observing painted hunting dogs, elephants, mountain gorillas and white lions, walked with wild meerkats and swum with dolphins. ‘The successful relationship and survival dynamics they use have provided me with valuable life insights and an understanding that we need nature for a sense of wellbeing and reconnection – with ourselves, others , the earth and our Creator, but in turn they need us to protect them.
More recently conservation challenges seem to have been left on my dorrstep. They usually arrive unexpectedly. The fist was during a period of time when I was observing the difference in elephant mothering behavior at a small reserve in KwaZulu Natal. My research focus was interesting because I was comparing the mothering behavior of elephants who had grown up with their families intact, with the Orphaned elephants whose families had been culled when they were youngsters. The truths I was learning resulted in EcoTours to provide others with a similar self-discovery experience, African bush style. On arrival for a ‘Wisdom of Elephants’ experience in 2005 I was told Nduna had been shot. Nduna is an elephant bull with great stature and character. His name means ‘Chief’ in the Zulu language. He enjoyed communicating and would often wander close and just hang out. When I asked, ‘why was he shot’, the response was, ‘He has been on a walk-about for several days and we keep having to find him and bring him back’. Apparently, like a pied piper he attracted the allegiance of many children on his rural strolls. They had never seen an elephant before. Elephants used to live in this homeland before these children were born, 100 years ago, but they were hunted and their land was taken for agricultural development, until there was not even one elephant left. The land owner thought, ‘This bull is loveable, but he is costing money, maybe I should sell him to a hunter for a trophy, he has great tusks’. The hunter boarded a plane and arrived with his gun. Nduna stepped out onto the grassy runway behind the Lodge and a bullet sunk into his skull. The hunter took the tusks and feet back to Italy, the meat was cut up for the staff as the rest of the elephant herd hovered around, aware their chief was being dissembled into small pieces. His bones were buried.
Young returned to her Cape town home pregnant with grief and a few days later journeying towards Oudtshoorn she mourned her gentle friend by walking a labyrinth made with circles of rose quartz. It was during this meditative walk that she received a message from Nduna through an animal interspecies communicator. Nduna said:
‘I have passed many younger lazy days in the African heat. I walked, sometimes with freedom sometimes with shackles. What I later came to realize was that it was my walk, my path was mine by choice not by fate or destiny. Or rather, that fate and destiny where my own making. I grew to realize that beyond the anger of victim hood and helplessness was the calm knowingness that comes with ripening years, that indeed all those footprints that lay behind me were where they were meant to be. Where I intended for them to be.
I saw younger ones come…and go. I saw what I did not want to see and I felt what I did not want to feel. The heat began to feel oppressive as the humans drove us deeper and deeper into territory that was never meant to be ours. Trapped, many of us tried to get out, longing for the freedom of open paths.
This is how I spent my younger days, lost in the difficulty and hardship. Frustrated and angry. Later in my life, a time came when I saw a light shining through a human man. This light reminded me that all life is sacred. That sacredness had been lost while we sat in the balance of destruction and evolution. In the centre of that light, I was reminded of Divine order, and knew that it belonged to whoever took the time to notice it. I noticed it that day. I noticed that this man was also living by it and knew that it was his light that awoken mine. Slowly my old life came back, more like a new life actually. I began to live from within, where I found my freedom. All those frustrated days I had tried to walk the path of freedom, only to find that inside of me was the greatest freedom I could ever encounter.
Once I had savored and enjoyed my fill, I knew that the time had come to teach others of my kind about this light. The more I acknowledged its presence, focused on it and used it, it grew. I knew also, that the time had come to release myself from one form of existence so that I could focus more completely into another. I chose to die, but at the same time, I chose to live. Now I occupy space in many worlds, through the physical world I am known by my legacy, and through these words my thoughts are heard and my light extended, so that I share myself now as a LIVING LEGACY. In the ethereal world, I have found my place in the forest, where the air is moist and the ground is soft. I have found richness of purpose here, and there are many who share in this lightness, and come here to be light-filled.
I am here to support, those physical and those not, elephant kind and earth kind with the freedom that comes from remembering our Truth and embracing our oneness. I embody a light, this light exists within me and through me, and it is awakened in you, for truly we are all extensions of the same Source…the same light.
Sight is not lost to the blind, for sight exists only in the inner mind.’
‘Nduna taught me that we can reach deep into our inner knowing and communicate with animals. We all can. Our ancestors used to do this all the time. It is believed in our early history there was a soul exchange between the Hunted and the Hunter, one life given for the survival of another. Killing was not so that you could have a trophy of ‘manhood’ mounted on a wall.
On 30th October, 2011 another elephant herd member was shot. This time it was the matriarch. Again, notification of this conservation catastrophe, from Beuga declaring that her life was at risk, came as a surprise. Beuga’s communication travelled from the reserve in KwaZulu Natal to the Timbivati where I was endulging in the inspiration provided by time spent with the White Lions and learning more about animal interspecies communication with a lovely lady very practised in this art. Beuga too has a Zulu name meaning, ‘to look’. Her name defines her. ‘She looks at you down her long trunk from a high, slanted forhead, as if to say, ‘Don’t harm my herd, I will protect them at any cost.’ As in life, in death, Beuga still protects her herd. I believe she too, like Nduna, chose to die. Nduna could have walked into the bush and the Hunter would not have found him, just as Beuga could have lead her herd into the thickets on that last day that the Destruction Permit hung over her gigantic head. They both chose to die to raise consciousness. Despite the way we treat them, elephants never forget, but they forgive. I would like to re-tells their life and death stories to support their cause, which is, humans and nature need each other. Although humans have the power to kill animals, we need to be remember the words of Ghandi, a peace-loving man, who fearlessly challenged violence, that a nation is known by the way it treats its animals.
Two weeks ago a baboon was shot in Fishoek, violently accused of attacking the wife of an old man. This sounds justifiable but I wander why the baboon was so threatened he would attack. The same day that I read about the old woman’s plight and the death of the baboon, I also had a visit from a male baboon. He silently entered through an open window of our home on the edge of Solole game reserve, sat on the table and helped himself to three apples. He was a in prime condition with a glossy coat. He watched as I emerged from my bedroom and chided him, ‘Oh no mate, this is my space, out!’ I was not unhappy that he had come in and taken the apples, he is an opportunist, I might do the same if there was little food available in the dry season to feed my family. I understood he needed to be strong so he can protect them. Without a fight he moved through the exit that was available and sat just outside the front door to eat the first apple. We chatted and engaged each other for a while with mutual respect. We may ask what were the circumstances that would lead another male baboon of the same species to attack a helpless women? Maybe the answer lies in the fact he was shot. What was the old man doing with a gun? Not many people in suburban dwellings keep a gun. Possibly this is how the old man, like many of us, face life – with fear and violence? Now a baboon who has no weapon, no lawyer to call upon, no newspaper editor to be his voice, so he is dead.