I have always had a deep love for the bush - the dry, muted colours, the heat, the richness of animal and birdlife, nature doing as nature is meant to do - at least to an extent, considering the fences and artificial interventions needed as a result of our interference, for bad and also for good. Coming to Timbavati was something I didn't believe was possible, as the lodges here are prohibitively expensive for a normal working single mom like me. However I held tight to the intention and when I found Wynter's Animal Communication Intensive held at the Tsau! Conservancy I knew that this was something I would do, and bring my daughter to as well.
Linda Tucker established the Global White Lion Protection Trust in order to release the white lions, held sacred by the Bushmen and the African tribes, back into their native wild. Timbavati is on the Nile Maridian and is the only pace that white lions occur naturally. Thought by modern scientists to be "freaks of nature", these white lions are in fact highly adapted predators that are bigger and possess superior hunting skills than their tawny brothers. When Linda released Mara, the first white lioness into the wild from the Johannesburg zoo together with her three young cubs, she taught herself to hunt and provided for her cubs on her own. Quite an achievement for a lioness bred in captivity, and testament to the extraordinary nature of these lions.
It was an incredible experience being on this sacred land for the 5 precious days that we were there. The land itself has a cocoon effect and holds one in a safe and tight embrace and it is very, very hard to leave! Having lugged my camera bag on the plan in the hope that I would be granted special permission to photograph these beautiful creatures, which is only granted in special cases, I held on again to the intention that it would be granted and lucky for me it was. Not only by Linda but also by the lions. When we found them they gave us the best sighting we had the entire trip, and for 45 or so minutes I got to experience being completely at one with these magnificent animals and for that time I was completely shooting from the heart.
Sadly, the white lions are also bred in captivity for the "canned hunting" trade, wherein they are sold off as trophies to wealthy hunters from around the world, doped and then allowed to be shot to prove what, I don't really know... to prove domination over nature, superiority? The lion, before man developed and advanced in technological skill and might, was the apex predator, revered by the ancients. It was the responsibility of the lion to maintain the natural balance. Man took over that role and sadly this is not what we have done but we continue to annihilate and destroy on a huge scale and even on a small scale each time we take up a weapon and take a life. I certainly hope that we are evolving and changing, and until that time I honour people like Linda Tucker and Garth Patterson who fearlessly protect these sacred creatures.