Why it is so important to get into Nature

DSC_0905I recently had the wonderful opportunity of going to the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and although I live very close to nature in the Western Cape, this was a chance of getting into a different kind of nature as the shrubland of the Addo is very different to the fynbos-swathed mountain meadows of the Cape where I live and work.

Addo is a nature reserve where it is possible to get up close and personal with most of the Big Five, and in a way it felt as though I had come home as the hot plains of Africa are in my blood, and I have a tremendous affinity with the wild creatures of the African bushveld. In acknowledgement of the part nature has played in the evolution of our species, I wrote this in my book Miracles of Hope: Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century”

DSC_0947“Apart from the obvious physical aspects of our evolutionary path, there are other deeper and more profound human characteristics that have developed in response to wild places and the companionship of other species, great and small. Our collective human psyche is intimately connected to all forms of nature, for it is within the context of the natural world of the hunter-gatherer way of life that it evolved…

“Since time immemorial, the natural world has been our species’ shaper and teacher. Our ancestors learned about the concept of time from observing the passage of the Moon through the night sky. They learnt to understand the effects of the passing seasons on migrations of game. By observing nature with an innate shrewdness, the ancients also learnt the laws of leverage and gravity, and based the principles of their early traps on these laws…

DSC_0971“Also unique in the evolutionary history of the Earth’s creatures was the development of conceptual thought and symbolic language capabilities that allowed for reflective discussion, the sharing of detailed information, social interaction and co-operative effort, elements that led to the development of culture, our defining human characteristic…

“Over the ages the natural world has literally shaped our bodies, minds and souls. Warming sunlight, the smell of bushveld, a profusion of spring of flowers, and the sigh of the ocean as it leaves the shore: these are the healing agencies of nature that soothe our modern city senses…

DSC_1016“We are as inextricably linked to the wind whispering in treetops and the deep rumble of distant thunder as a leopard prowling a rocky mountain ledge or an elephant grazing on the African savanna. Sensed but unseen, felt but not comprehended, elements of the natural world exert an enormous influence over our everyday lives.” No wonder, then, that by going to Addo and by getting back to nature, I felt as though I had come home.