Addo Elephant National Park is my home away from home; it is my quick escape, my happy spot and probably the place that gets featured on my Instagram feed the most. It is a National Park I stand up for, believe in and support. I know the dirt roads like the back of my hand; I remember the roaming kudu and still proudly tell the old tale of citrus-eating elephants.
Addo Elephant National Park is a place that nurtured my curiosity. It is a place that showed me how to appreciate nature and most importantly, it’s a place that taught me to appreciate animals.
A few weeks ago I visited Addo for the umpteenth time again. The Park was abuzz with visitors from all walks of life in search of the big five with cameras and phones anxiously waiting to snap, click and share.
At Domkrag Dam, one of the few places where you are allowed to alight from your
vehicle, people gathered with binoculars and high hopes. A lion (or two) hid somewhere while the horns of a kudu, a recent kill, was visible from the view point. On the other side of the human gathering small game visited the watering hole and as I watched the thirst quenching session a new onlooker walked over and asked his friend, “Is there anything here?”.
The friend replied, as he walked and pointed to the lion’s side: “Nothing here, but over there is a carcass and a lion somewhere”.
Kudus. Zebras. Warthogs. Blue Herons.
It irked me because I have seen too often how keeping eyes open for the big five have led people away from the “nothing”; away from the dung beetles, butterflies and tortoises. I have heard the “have you seen a lion” countless times and experienced how the rare “no, but I just saw a python” have made no impact. I have smelled the desperation of sharing big five photos around every corner and I have witnessed the unfortunate lack of interest in the things not big, scary or strong enough.
A Tribute to the Nothing of Wildlife
So here is a tribute to all the animals that has been called “nothing”, and in the spirit of “nothing”, a tribute to all the sunsets, sunrises, plants, beautiful trees and clouds.
(And a high five to all those still in awe and appreciation of the “nothing”).
A Baboon “Nothing”.
A Python “Nothing”.
A Steenbok “Nothing”.
A Lilac-Breasted Roller “Nothing”.
A Warthog “Nothing”.
A Squirrel “Nothing”.
An Impala “Nothing”.
A Marabou Stork “Nothing”.
A Zebra “Nothing”.
A Waterbuck “Nothing”.
Butterflies on Elephant Dung “Nothing”.
A Bushbuck “Nothing”.
Blue Herons “Nothing”.
A Red Hartebeest “Nothing”.
A Black-backed Jackal “Nothing”.
All animals matter. Enjoy the big five and appreciate the “smaller” twenty, or thirty.