‘I learnt many things – fear (I was run up trees by buffalo and lion more than a few times!), exhilaration, wonder, humility and knowing just how vulnerable and weak us humans can be compared to the magnificent African mega fauna that I was exploring.’ This is how Calvin Cottar, from Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, nestled in Masai Mara in Kenya, portrays his childhood memories in the deep African bushveld.
Calvin describes his relationship with wild and wonderful Africa:
‘I learnt to transition seamlessly and quickly from human ‘super-predator’ (a single man can stare down 100 elephant or an entire pride of lion) to be safe, to being invisible and challenging the abilities of predator or prey ‘one on one’ – just to see if I could outfox them on their own terms;
I used concealment , camouflage and most importantly stillness and patience to sneak up on them so close that I could almost touch them, or have them walk up to me without knowing I was there.
This culminated in an experience I remember crystal clear to this day where a leopardess walked past me as I was standing in the middle of open ground – within 15 feet of me – and certainly within her ‘flight distance’ (if she had clocked me she would have had no choice but to attack!)…let me tell you, I have never lived more than that moment in my entire life!
It was also the moment that I understood my place in the world and I became a truly sentient and sensitive human being, finally understanding that we are only part of nature and can never be more ‘powerful’ than nature…
It was also the moment that I understood my place in the world and I became a truly sentient and sensitive human being, finally understanding that we are only part of nature and can never be more powerful’ than nature…’