When I think about Africa, I think of sun and exotic wildlife like nothing we have in the United States. I am not much of a nature girl, but I enjoy seeing animals in their natural environment. At home, I don’t pay much attention to wildlife, and I find most of it rather mundane, possibly because it is so familiar to me. African wildlife, on the other hand, seems to hold a greater power and appeal.
South Africa has a wide variety of wildlife. This morning we made a stop at the beach to see some penguins, and they were fun to watch as they wadled around on the large rock in the ocean. After this, we made our way to the Aquila Nature Reserve and headed out on our first safari. I was surprised at how many zebras and springbucks we saw right away, as well as some ostriches, all of which were standing around a watering hole. An elephant and two rhinos were standing by a pole, each watching every move of the other and ready to fight if need be. This interaction between two large land mammals was amazing, and we have no species like either of these in Minnesota. Although most of the animals are free to roam the reserve and interact with one another, the lions are kept separate. When we drove into their enclosure, the alpha male stood up and watched as we approached two females. He came closer, his yellow eyes watching us to make sure we did not do anything he didn’t like. The eyes of the lions are awesome, in that they appear to be able to see right into your soul when they look at you. The lions were within ten feet of the truck, as were many of the other animals, and it was truely magical to be that close to such amazing creatures. The animals of South Africa live in all sorts of environments, from the beaches to the moutains, and each one has its own sense of majesty.
At a zoo, one cannot see different animal species interacting like they do in the wild. The conservation efforts of South Africa appear to be great and are having a positive influence on the animals, some of which are endangered. Seeing the wildlife of Africa outside of a zoo makes the world seem so much more alive, and shows the importance of the animals. The safari changed the way I view animals and their roles in the world. Part of what makes our world such a beautiful place are the animals that inhabit it with us.