This weekend I read a beautifully written, insightful book called Cathedral of the Wild. A memoir by Boyd Varty, it his personal journey of growing up in the wilderness. Boyd was raised on Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, which was transformed into a nature reserve during the seventies. He currently lives and works at the reserve, and his most recent projects include advocating for the restoration of an ancient elephant corridor and helping the Good Work Foundation create more learning centres in South Africa.
There is a chapter on Nelson Mandela, whose first visit of many to Londolozi was not long after he was released from prison in 1990. It was during this period of adjustment and recovery that Madiba found solace in the bush. At first he stayed in one of the guest chalets, but once he became more comfortable with his hosts he preferred the family cottage where the accommodations were far modest: a bed and a bookshelf.
After Madiba became president of South Africa (I was 14 at that time) he wrote the foreword to the book, I speak of Africa: The Story of Londolozi Game Reserve. In the final paragraphs Madiba wrote:
During my long walk to Freedom, I had the rare privilege to visit Londolozi. There I saw people of all races living in harmony amidst the beauty that Mother Nature offers. There I saw a living lion in the wild. Londolozi represents a model of the dream I cherish for the future of nature preservation in our country.
The greatest threat to wildlife is the belief that someone else will save it.
Science tells us that by the end of this century half of all species on earth will be threatened by extinction. But there is a different surge of people rising up that refuses to accept this extreme decline unfolding around us – NGOs, individuals, communities, school children, and a new generation of activists are taking back the power.
Humans share about 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, another animal in danger of extinction. Ecosystems and biodiversity is the vital fabric that binds together the great tapestry of life, and we humans are but one thread. Even so, we have the power to create, and the power to destroy. What you wear and what you eat yanks the great chain of command, and what you say and what you stand for is amplified through social media.
Now more than ever people are asking questions and demanding answers, because there are only two choices left in the world we find ourselves existing in today: stand back and do nothing, or rise up and do something.
Watch Boyd’s TED Talk: Ubuntu, and what I learned from Nelson Mandela.