Growing up, I
was taught that one could catch, hunt, eat, photograph or film
wild animals. The mantra was "if it pays, it stays".
Later I discovered there was another component to savings wild
animals and that was to go into partnership with them.
Certain Big Cats and Elephants, were amenable to forming
symbiotic partnerships with human beings.
Together with Elmon Mhlongo, I was able in 1979 to habituate the
mother leopard. (A habituated leopard is a leopard that is
completely wild that allows people to follow her in jeeps
photographing and filming her everyday life)
For 14 years we documented her life and those of 19 of her cubs.
In short, we formed a partnership with her.
The nineteen cubs that the mother produced,
grew up habituated. Vehicles following them, photographs being
taken was the norm in their daily lives. As these cubs dispersed
from Londolozi, other game lodges formed partnerships with these
Mala Mala, Sabi Sabi, Lion Sands,
Singita have all had wonderful, rewarding relationships with
male and female leopards.
partnership, if it is symbiotic, it endures. If it is one sided,
it fails. All partnerships are built on trust and if one party
breaks that trust, then the partnership dissolves rapidly.
Therefore one cannot take jeeps full of guests to photograph the
leopard for 51 weeks of the year and then on the 52nd week, one
brings a hunter to shoot the leopard.
do this, you have broken your side of the partnership. This is
despicable! Sadly, it happens often.
Timbavati, one of the best known private reserves in South
Africa, are heavily invested in eco tourism. Many fine lodges in
Timbavati host overseas guests and create valuable jobs in the
An elephant with 100 pound
tusks is rare in Africa today (some say there are less than 30)
Everyday guests from the Timbavati lodges go out in search of
the magnificent 100 pound tusker. Some guests are lucky enough
to see and photograph him.
One day this year, the guest will not carry a
camera, he or she will have a high powered rifle.
The symbiotic relationship that has brought joy, knowledge and
inspiration to so many people, will be gone. The bull elephant
will be gone. The bull elephant will lie lifeless on the ground.
A wealthy person who has paid a great deal of money, will have
their picture taken and later the head and magnificent tusks
will be displayed in their trophy room thousands of miles away
from where the magnificent bull once roamed.
Timbavati are trying to have their cake and eat it. We will
photograph you when it suits us and shoot you dead when it suits
us (The proposition put forward is that he is no longer a
breeding bull, he is past his prime).
Timbavati earns 70% of their income from hunting, then why do
they advertise themselves as eco tourist destinations? Is this
Combining hunting and eco
tourism, is fraught with problems. The two are contradictory.
Timbavati's attitude is not in line with
world trends. The new frontiers are interspecies communication
and a harmonious road that allows different species to live in
As human beings approach 10
billion on planet earth, we are endanger of consuming the
earth's resources at the expense of all other species. More and
more species are becoming endangered at our expense.
If we cannot allow a hundred pound bull elephant that has
brought us joy, knowledge and inspiration over so many years, to
live out his last days in peace, we as a species are doomed to
Tread Lightly on the Earth
The balance shifts in favour of the tiger
The good rains at Tiger Canyons have shifted
the balance greatly in favour of the tiger.
During the 2 year drought, there was little cover for the tiger
to stalk. Now with knee to waist high grass, the tiger is in its
Even zebra out in the open grasslands, have
been caught by the tiger stalking through the 1.2m themeda
In the drought, I would have graded the
habitat for tigers as no more than 4 out of 10. Now it is an 8
out of 10 habitat.
The beautiful green
landscape are providing magnificent pictures as the golden cats
contrast against the green.
Tread Lightly On