Excited. Anxious. Cautious. Just a few of my emotions as we boarded the open truck and ventured through the wild tracks of my very first game reserve experience.
We will see hippos, rhinos, giraffes, wildebeests, lions, elephants, zebras – what’s your preference? – announced our guide. Well, all……
And as we ambled through the rocky terrain, the animals seemed to appear one by one, as if on queue. Some close by, others in the distance. Some lazing in their favourite waterhole, others scampering away as we approached. Few staring curiously, others not even phased by our existence.
At all times however, our guide taking us carefully through the reserve, stopping at certain vantage points, allowing us time to experience the closeness of these wild animals.
At times we understood that we were not very welcome. An uncanny feeling when you venture on foot towards a mother and baby rhino and discover that you are now surrounded by three large female rhinos whose instinct is to protect their young. So what do you do? Carefully, slowly retreat. Retreat. Retreat. And there and then you understand fully that you are not in charge. You understand the power of the ‘village raising the child’ and wonder when we humans lost this instinct to protect each other so fiercely. Or have we?
It was encouraging to see other families of giraffes, warthogs, nyalas, impalas – an indication that these reserves are indeed successful in keeping these species alive.