Lockdown lessons and lying with leopards

Sabi Sand | April 2020

“There is no greater way to connect back with the wild soul, than by returning to our most ancient roots, in nature.” – Unknown

As the world takes a much needed breath and we begin to slow our daily routines, there becomes a sense of stillness and understanding in our lives. I have had the incredible privilege of being at home in the Sabi Sand game reserve over the past five weeks of lock down in South Africa. This has been a time where personally I have realized how truly important it is to have a deep connection with nature.

Rather than being consumed by television, social media and technology I have chosen to break away in this time to nourish skills and to embrace the quiet. This has also meant separating myself from my Land Rover and setting my feet on the ground more often.

There is something incredibly special about being on foot in the wilderness, the sound of the sand and the grass crunching beneath your feet, the fresh smell in the air and the acute feeling of heightened awareness, stimulating one’s intuition. If there is any way of reconnecting with nature, it is through being immersed in it with no attachment to the modern world.

One day recently I came across the Tavangumi male leopard lying in a dry riverbed. I crept slowly closer to him as he relaxed in the soft sand enjoying the shade of a large sycamore fig tree. I could feel his eyes drawn to me, watching my every step, and yet he remained calm and content in his resting place. A leopard is a very secretive animal, one with unbelievable beauty and mystique. These qualities are what intrigue me so profoundly when it comes to leopards. They are an animal with which I feel a spiritual bond.

As I moved closer onto a clear area of sand, with the utmost respect, I stopped to watch the behaviour of this magnificent cat. Grasping my camera and my walking stick, I too sat in the sand of the dry river bed where Tavangumi male and I continued to observe each other. He yawned, multiple times, a sure sign and behavioural trait which signals that he was ready to get up and move. With a short stretch, still nonchalant to my presence, he moved a few steps closer toward me and once again lay down.

In the stillness of this picturesque riverbed surrounded by ancient trees, a completely wild and beautiful creature shared its terrain with me and in this moment, I felt a complete connection to nature.

We went our separate ways and I was left with a lesson learnt that wilderness is an incredibly sacred place. If we can grasp the importance of breaking away from modernity and busyness, we can discover our wild souls and heal through our ancient roots, in nature.

Do yourself a favour today and put away your phone, get out of the confines of your vehicle or home (if possible) and find a place in which you can find a connection to nature, even if it means being close to a pot plant or soaked in the warm sunlight. Breathe deeply, be still, and observe how wonderful you feel in that moment.