A Matriarchal Moment at Kariega

02May
Judy Miller
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Elephant Eastern Cape Matriach Herd Baby Kariega Jm

There were extraordinary moments throughout my first visit to the Kariega Game Reserve but one in particular rearranged me in some essential way and brought this wonderful reserve to the very top of my extensive “Wonderful Nature Reserves in Africa” list.

In the dim light of dawn our guide drove the open vehicle slowly up the steep, slippery track. The morning air was moist as we moved higher, looking out over the wide green hills and valleys of Kariega. It was our last day and we wanted one more glimpse of the breeding herd of elephants. After a wild stormy night, no one knew where they were but I trusted the glint in the eye of our guide. 

We came to a standstill at the top of the rise and sat together in silence looking out over the wet and wondrous world of the animals. Suddenly, silently they were there. Mothers, sisters, aunties and their many offspring from toddlers to teens moving slowly, quietly beside and around our vehicle. We were simply another element in their peaceful world. 

Magical Moment with Elephant Matriarch

The mothers patiently shepherded their young along and one tiny baby, only a week old we were told, walked with wobbly steps safely beneath his mother’s wide belly. We watched one young guy attempt to control his trunk well enough to get some of those tasty looking leaves into his mouth. I might have reached out to stroke the wrinkled skin but the mammoth matriarch was watching her tribe. She seemed to approve of their slow and relaxed movement. Soon she joined the procession moving by our vehicle. As she passed me there was an instant when our eyes engaged for one brief, magical moment. For a second all the boundaries dissolved and I was simply a living breathing part of a much greater reality. 

I cherish that interaction and know it happened because of the relationship between the staff at Kariega and the animals on the land. When the matriarch of a breeding herd trusts the peopled vehicle to sit in the middle of her precious herd something is quite right with the world. Somehow the management and the staff work together seamlessly to create a land where animals are honored and trust is the flavor of each day.

I am grateful for my time at Kariega and I will bring groups here in the future because I know that to experience this world will humble, awe, touch and inspire each and every visitor. And, I know the experience will kindle a deep sense of connection to our earth which is just what the world needs now.

Thank you to guest and US tour operator Judy Miller for the wonderful words and photo.

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