At the far end of Cape Town, the city nominated as the top tourist destination in 2011, as you travel towards Cape Point, there are 330 hectares of wilderness space with panoramic views of mountains and ocean, that needs restoring. The discouraged owner, whose original dream was to keep some space for wild animals, birds, buck, flowers and insect that live in the fynbos floral kingdom endemic to the Cape, has given up. Not enough support. The land has become desertified and the animals are being sold. The buffalo have already left. Soon to leave are the eland and the springbok. We need someone with vision, finances and a conservationary heart to attend the auction to secure this unique treasure and restore it to its natural balance and beauty once again.
The night before the buffaloes left Shaggy told me she did want to leave. Heavily pregnant, she was not sure she could survive the thirty hour journey. It would be hot and clammy within the metal walls of the truck and she may have to stand the entire journey.
The next day they first darted Zeus, her partner. His front legs crumpled mid-stride and his huge, heaving muscles shrunk under his black, sweating hide. His heavy head of horns crashed into the hard earth. Disembowelled dirt flew into the air amidst a displaced cloud of dust. Then there was a deathly silence.
‘Quick’, turn him on his side so he can breathe’. Forty black hands belonging to twenty male bodies hired from the township next door sprung into action. Mission accomplished, Zeus now lay on his side, and they began to lift his 2000kg bulk onto the waiting truck. It was now their muscles that were tense with sweat that slid down smooth-skinned cheeks moving rhythmically with the song they were singing to work in unison.
Almost there, but as they toil and tense with increased effort to lift the great beast onto the threshold of the truck, one man buckles and they all collapse like dominoes. Zeus crashes to the ground for a second time. Surprisingly he sleeps on. They stagger to their feet like drunk men, but courageously continue, lifting him onto a low level Mazda bakkie this time before transferring him onto the high level truck.
Soon after they slam shut the tail gate shut he is awake. With red-eyed rage he rapidly explodes into action. The truck shudders and we wander whether the sides will split as Zeus catapults his great bulk against his jail walls.
The rest of the herd are unsettled. Fear begins to rise in their veins, searing from their hooves upwards. Big-hearted Shaggy senses their rising panic and calls gently, soothing their terror and rubbing against the little ones to comfort them. One by one they are darted and fall. One by one they are carried by the fatiguing muscled arms of the black men and loaded onto a separate truck to the powerful bull. He has been darted again, with a tranquilizer this time, and calms down to a threatening head shake of his expansive horns.
Shaggy is last and having calmed everyone else she faces her terror alone. She runs. The dart spikes her rump and she crumples. She can feel the paralyzing liquid enter her brain, but she fights on, stands up, and runs again. Another dart pierces the opposite rump. She loses her footing and twists to the ground, instinctively protecting her pregnant belly. ‘That’s it, she is the last’, the captor shouts with triumphant exhaustion, and then, ‘Bloody hell, she’s up again’. Shaggy made one last escape attempt and then sank into blackness.
The empty land echoes their departure and we grieve. We saw them go, but how much is taken from us day by day, minute by minute, that we do not see disappear, but we feel the departure in the belly of our being, and we mourn. We don’t see the trees felled down by bulldozers in the Amazon jungle, but deep down we hear them fall. We don’t see the wild dog trapped, squirming to get loose from the jaws of the snare around his waist. We don’t see his pack yelp and dart from side to side, helpless to free their leader from the iron teeth, but we know as we plunder the land and her inhabitants we lose sight of community and the ‘connectedness of things’ that hold us interdependently together.
We act as if we don’t care when the last leopard is shot and we then complain that there are too many baboons. Or we cull the elephants who open up and prune the bushveld vegetation so that the land remains self-regenerating and complain that there is too much grass and too many bush fires.
Although we live in high rise buildings with not even a plant to green the interior, deep down, nature calls. We evolved in adaptation to nature and wander why we are so maladjusted to city life that brings self-focused separation from one another, pollution and depression.
Mandy Young, EcoPsychologist, has spent many years observing animals with social behaviour – wild dogs, elephants, meerkats, dolphins, white lions and mountain gorillas. She invites you to respond to the inner call that draws you back to your natural roots. She invites you to journey with her into wilderness places and through facilitated self-reflective group discussions to reconnect with your intuition and Creator-designed uniqueness.
Nature is nurturing and in wild places we find wisdom: ancient wisdom you inherently know. Initially as you awake from emotional bleakness you may tingle or even feel pain, sometimes a little overwhelmed, but you can manage, because you are not alone. Your fellow travellers are waking too. Mandy holds a gentle space as you rest your fragile psyches in the arms of Mother Nature. This is a place where bruises can heal and there is a balm that allows the heart to open. Pain can be purifying and out of the ashes a flower grows.
Nature Calls, www.naturecalls.co.za, is an adventure and an exploration. A reawakening of passion and a transformation of soul through personal life insights that pave the way for love – of self, of others, of the earth and ultimately a reconnection with a Creator that planned for all living things to live side-by-side.