Wilderness. By definition it is an uncultivated, inhospitable region, uninhabited by man. A place without artificiality. A place free of the constructs of our societies. It is where the prophets of some of mankind’s great religions were said to go for understanding. It is a place where every step has a consequence, and everything is in balance. And it is where I find myself perched on a termite mound, contemplating a troop of baboons preparing for their evening roost in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. I wonder how many of us have had the privilege to have experienced true wilderness… to touch its bark, taste its water and smell its sage. Our wilderness is disappearing, this we know, and for those of us who have been swept up in the delirious clutches of its beauty, this we feel. But it is not our despair that will help these wild places, it is our hope.
May these images from one of Africa’s last remaining great wildernesses fill you with hope. If you have never been to the wilderness, I ask you to seek it out. Once you have breathed its air you will understand that preserving our wildernesses is akin to preserving ourselves.
#Okavango14 expedition members Kgalalelo Mpetsang (KG), Gobonamang Kgetho (GB) and Lelamang Kgetho (Snaps) are smoking a harvest of tiger fish and tilapia from the Mother Okavango, as the baYei refer to her. People have been living here for over 100,000 years, deriving a livelihood from its resources. GB, who has fished the same stretch of river before, expresses with a note of concern that this year took them two hours to catch what they had caught here previously in twenty minutes, and suspects the commercial fishing licenses introduced upriver. Fellow expedition members and National Geographic Emerging Explorers Shah Selbe and Jer Thorpe are monitoring and recording water quality parameters along the journey to better understand aquatic conditions across the delta and drive the design of water sensors which will be deployed in 2015. The fish was eventually mixed with a paste made from the rhizomes of water lillies and made a very welcome change from rice and beans. (Photo by James Kydd; rangerdiaries.com)
If you have any questions about the Okavango Delta, our experiences, its wildlife, or how to visit it, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out our Twitter page at @rangerdiaries.
James is an international safari guide and wildlife photographer. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Nature Conservation and has been guiding at some of South Africa’s top safari lodges since 2002. Since then he has lead safaris further afield, that include following the great herds through East Africa, tracking jaguars in the floodplains of the Brazilian Pantanal and seeking out snow leopards in the Himalayas. James has dedicated his life to re-connecting people to the natural frequencies of the wild with the belief that this is our greatest chance of protecting wilderness. He created the multiple-award winning website RangerDiaries.com as a platform to promote guides and photographers and celebrate the wildlife they work with. When not on safari he is based in Cape Town.
If you'd like his advice on wildlife, guiding or planning a safari you can reach him at email@example.com.
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