They gathered in a circle facing our safari vehicle. Six to eight adults and a couple of older juveniles, swaying in the breeze and munching on various bits of dry branches and leaves. In the center of the circle, two or three smaller bodies lay still – it was time for the elephant calves’ daily nap. While the calves dozed, the adults protected them from predators, annoying insects, and the heat of the sun. As long as we maintained a respectful distance, the elephants did not seem to mind our presence. We observed them for some time and then moved on. I could have watched them forever.
Something changed for me during that visit to South Africa in the summer of 2018. I wanted to stay in the bush with those elephants. I wanted to leave everything behind and follow them like the world’s weirdest groupie. I felt a deep sense of longing to communicate with them and become their “friend” (if that’s even possible). I needed to do something protect them from the poachers and environmental threats that imperiled their existence. By getting involved with Reclaimed Earth, I feel I’ve taken a step toward making this last goal a reality.
A piece of my soul stayed with that herd. That’s what South Africa does – it reaches into your consciousness and taps something deep and primal. A desire to return to a simpler life; more connected to the earth and its other inhabitants. A need to conserve and restore the wilderness. The bush keeps calling for me. Someday soon, I will answer.