A few years ago my family and I went to Africa. The trip was organised by a university friend, Jake, who had spent many years in Kenya, and was passionate about protecting its amazing environment and beautiful culture.
At one of the camps, my friend had arranged a ‘lecture’ with a local ‘professor’. This charming, tiny man, of an uncertain age and carrying just a walking stick, asked us to follow him into the bush. He opened the gate and we strode out of the electrified protected compound into the wild.
As we walked further and further from the compound I became increasingly nervous, not least as the four children were still quite small and there was no way we would be able to run back to the gate in the event of an ‘issue’!
The professor, sensing my nervousness, calmly said:
‘You don’t need to worry. When you’re with me, the animals won’t touch you. I have lived my whole life with them. I know them and they know me. We are connected. When there was a severe drought I brought out some meat for the lioness and her dying cub. She had brought it to me and dropped it in front of me, asking me to help. She remembers.’
And then added: ‘and, by the way, these tracks you just walked past are fresh and she is not far away right now. She has known we are here as soon as we walked out of the compound. So are several hyenas. But they won’t worry us either…’
As we discreetly huddled more closely to him, which caused him to grin very broadly, we realised to what extent we had, and have, completely lost our connection to this extraordinary and magnificent world. It was a soulful, mystical, unforgettable and utterly beautiful experience…