The Simple Joys of Sundowners with Elephants
_by Tamlin Wightman_
Nature has a way of bringing us back to the simple things. To the things we often miss, caught up in faster, mechanical worlds. Nature has a way of slowing us down, softening us and sharpening our animal senses.
We all have our different ways of starting and ending a day. Sometimes these bookends are planned, routines, sometimes they’re spontaneous, haphazard. But there is a constant that marks them – sunrise and sunset.
In cities, in our school, work and home lives, we can go days and weeks without seeing them, but in the wilderness, at Jabulani, seeing them is the very purpose of certain adventures.
The intended goal of heading out into the bush in the morning is to see the animals – the lions, the impala and the early birds – as they stir in the still cool dawn. But it is also about watching the colours change across the sky as the sun’s rays paint the natural world with a golden touch.
In the late afternoon, the approaching evening dusk, the sun starts its descent and we head out to watch it again, as second by second, it slips behind the horizon marked by the bush. Such an occasion is always best shared, not simply by you and me, by ranger and guest, but by human and elephant. The adults… Jabulani, Bubu, Lundi, Sebakwe, Sampane, Setombe, Tokwe. And the babies born and adopted at the lodge… Limpopo, Klaserie, Zindoga, Mambo, Pisa, Kumbura, Timisa.
Watching the Jabulani herd ambling homeward to the stables, after an afternoon of foraging, swimming and walking in the wild, around the edge of the dam as the sun sets on another beautiful day in Africa… suddenly the simple things don’t feel small or plain at all. They feel like something much more immense and deep, real and of great purpose and meaning.
The magnificent silhouettes of a peaceful, contented herd, with the elephant carers, the elephants’ human family – they bring us right back to ourselves, to our core, and to the heart of what we do and why we do it.
Sitting with a sundowner in hand, watching the dance, guests feel it too.
In the quiet of this time, our senses always perk up. We can detect the change in the wind, the drop in the temperature, the scent of the bush, the sounds of the wild ones, the stars starting to appear up high.
These are the moments in between all the hard and important work of caring for our herd, these are the moments when we all come together. Human, animal, nature, together, for the simple purpose of witnessing the passing of day into night.
Yours in Conservation
The Jabulani Family