Thursday, 10 April 2008

WE hear them ROAR!

There are some moments in the bush that constantly thrill and enchant me, surprise and soothe me. The moment when you suddenly see a leopard, the moment you see the first burnt orange and yellow of autumn on the leaves, or have a perfect late summers day and realise only a few are left before winter. And then there are moments that are forever there in your heart, like the skies reflection on a silent waterhole.
One of many of these singular, beautiful and powerful moments was a few weeks ago when I got out of the tank close to a lioness. The lioness was dead from a night of violence involving the Mapogo males and some dead cubs. As I walked up to her perfectly still and serene carcass my primal being shouted ‘what if she’s not dead!’ The reflection in her glazed eye showed the harsh truth of pure untamed wild nature.
This instantly takes me back to two places, separated by only a short amount of time, back in December. The first one was just after we had seen the first little carcass of a Kuhuma cub lying dead and discarded in the trampled grass. A few minutes later James and I stopped and looked at some yellow thatch grass swaying in what seemed a cold summer’s wind. Reflecting on the start of our morning and wondering about these lions, these strong kings of wild places. The ‘Mapogo’s’……….I’d never seen them before, maybe I would see them today.
The grass soothed away our anger at the cub’s death and helped us accept the savage but honest spirit of this land. This brings me to the first moment, as clear now as then, when I saw my first Mapogo male. What a lion! We drove off road for long, not knowing how far the bush would stretch until we saw them. I knew we’d see them. Ephraim, who’d also found the cub, had tracked the violence back to a giraffe carcass, killed a day before by the Kuhuma females. Driving slowly, emotions and excitement were high with the possibility of meeting the current threat and future fathers of the Kuhuma cubs. ‘Lion’, don’t know if I said it or just heard it in my heart or felt it in my stomach. Mapogo! Shaka! Big, beautiful, instantly recognised as one of those we will remember as ‘warrior’, ‘iconic’ or ‘legend’. I saw him looking at me. Then his brother, whom I’ve come to think of as Leonides. These were lions! Now the days are growing shorter, cooler, the nights colder, longer. Winter is waiting close, grass grows brown and brittle, yellow leaves disappear like water in the mud. The impalas will start their rut so that more will be born next summer. Some more lion cubs will pass and new ones will flourish. Before the grass grows green again, before the woodland kingfishers return, before we know it, there will be more little lions born from warriors, born from the Mapogo’s, who to me will always be Spartans when I think of them.I leave today, I will miss Djuma, I will miss the lowveld. Just last night, what a memory, finding the lion and lioness in the grass in the dark. Mating Mapogo’s!! Enjoy the wildlife, the moment and WildEarth ... it's in our nature.
Written by Pieter Pretorius


Kathy in WV said...

Pieter has done it again. Made me cry. Even though I "was with him" the first time he saw the Mapogos.
He'll be missed so much while he's gone and we'll look forward to his return. I hope we get to see some of the pictures he takes while he is in the desert!
Kathy in WV
CamWatcher's Cafe Forum

Marcia said...

Pieter, your soul shines through in your writing. We are privileged to be able to be part of your thoughts and feelings, and to share with you in your passion for animals and nature. And if you ever write a book, i'll buy it for my library! :)

CamWatcher's Café

Anonymous said...

Pieter what a brilliant talent, not only to you take the most amazing photos, your way with words, is truly magic. I wishyou the best on your holiday, relax enjoy happy Desert Elephant Searching. - An Aussie with a passion for all things African

Anonymous said...

Pieter, you will be missed by all. Hope you have a wonderful vacation and hope to see some of your pictures. You are such an amazing man with all you do. Your pictures, your drives, your words, and you! You always seem to have the right words at the right time. We all know you have much love for the bush and what you do...enjoy


Stacy said...

Beautiful memories Pieter. Your love of nature just pours out in your writings. Everything comes from the heart and it is just beautiful to read.

I wish you all the best on your trip to Namibia and I will anxiously await your return so we can share many more exhilerating moments on the WE drives.

Claire-M. aka Clic2007 said...

Pieter! Oh! Pieter!

You left us on a question before you went "What is Nature?". With those few words you sent me rambling the paths of my memory, looking for souvenirs that might help me sketch an eventual answer to such a question...

Now I have a question for you.

"Why did you hide, from us, the writer in you for so long?"

Merci, Pieter, d'offrir ainsi ton âme de poète.


Anonymous said...

Pieter, it is such a pleasure to join you on the game drive twice a day. Your passion and joy for everything you see is passed on to all your viewers. You are so thrilled to see the smallest bug, or the largest elephant. It is difficult to take my eyes off the screen, and wait in anticipation for anything that we might find at the next turn in the road. Everyone watching and listening to the excitement in your voice knows what nature means to you. Thank you for your knowledge and love of nature. Have fun on your vacation, and we all look forward to your return to the Djuma game drive.
Pam from California

Raven-Camwatchers Cafe said...

From you words I could feel the excitement, anticipation and sadness of the drive all over again. Your description added so much.
We miss your eloquence with word when you are away. WE hope you enjoyed your holiday and look forward to seeing Africa and all it's splendor through your eyes and words once more.

naturewatcher said...

Not only do you bring the bush to us in a way that makes it seem as if we are there and photograph it with an amazing eye, you can also tranport us back to that time in words. Your love of nature shines through in everything you do. Enjoy your holiday with the ellies (remember they are large grey animals with long noses and flappy ears LOL) as I know they hold a special place in your heart.