Welcome to The Lionheart Experience!!!
It has been a dream of mine for over a decade to be able to share my stories, sightings, experiences and photos of this gorgeous planet and its creatures with you and now I finally have the chance to do it. As well as igniting passion, I also aim to teach and educate on some of the finer details, facts, and observations of nature that come with having spent many hundreds of hours watching quietly, sometimes from a distance, sometimes intimately close, absorbing all that I can, and being constantly amazed at what I see and learn. The more time I spend in the bush, the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know and how much more there is to learn!!!
Perhaps you, like me, have had the incredible opportunity to experience a moment like this:
You have just finished lighting the fire, adding some nice Acacia nigrescens (from the Knobthorn, the botanical name now changing to Senegalia nigrescens) logs on, which burns so well and has that incredible smell from the sweet resin, and the fire is now crackling with bright yellow flames…
You sit back on your camping chair, with a glass of 10 year old cabernet sauvignon in your hand and you look up at the majestic night sky, sparkling bright with millions of stars, boasting their light without any light disturbance from any nearby city because you are hundreds of kilometres into the African bush, far away from anything built of heavy concrete or tarmac, and there is no thudding music, no nightclubs, speeding cars, factories or crowds, and you take a deep breath in. The fierynecked nightjar on the outskirts of the flickering fire’s light calls, with the most beautiful and almost haunting sound, “good Lord, deliiiiiiiiiver us”… it is perched on a dead branch jutting out of a small Combretum imberbe (Leadwood), generally the only nightjar you will find perched on a tree at night, with the European nightjar being the only nightjar that will roost lengthwise along a tree in the day. The nightjar bursts into flight and a moth that is just visible from the firelight is caught in its beak and you marvel at the design of this bird with the ability to catch an insect in the dark, in flight, with its mouth!! The hard rictal bristles, modified feathers lining the edge of the wide opening mouth, act as a large catchment funnel, and the bird’s incredible sight and ability to manoeuvre swiftly make it the incredible aerial insect hunter that it is. It flies off and you immediately wish it was calling again… which later it does from further away, with a slight echo, and you just hope that it will be calling when you lay your head down on your pillow and drift off into absolute bliss…
A few moments of silence pass, and your mind starts to wander…. You think about your day, your work back home, and your mind is like a slideshow jumbled with random unconnected thoughts.. it seems strange to be thinking about mundane things like power cuts back home while sitting here but that is what the bush does. It gives you time to think and process. All of a sudden, a hyena whoops nearby, and all your senses come alive in a split second. You feel a slight tingling over you, as your sympathetic nervous system responded to an external stimulus, and all the body’s chemistry took place naturally without you even being conscious of it, thousands of neural impulses, various hormones released, and the ability to act with more strength and speed than usual, all in a matter of milliseconds, and now you feel strangely more than just present… you feel charged, electric, and something within the soul speaks quietly saying “I am alive”.
This for me is the heartbeat behind it all. There is more to this life than we can see with our eyes. This was just a simple moment shared above, that almost anyone who has been to a game reserve in Africa can experience, although sadly many miss it.
It doesn’t have to be the most extraordinary sighting of a leopard killing an impala a few metres away from us in camp for us to be captivated (although that is truly incredible), but if we learn how, we can be swept up in the mystery of life and discover something deeper in all the moments that we experience. We can also then take this into all areas of our lives and we live richer and more fulfilled lives through it.
To take it one step further, for me it is about getting to know the true LionHeart behind it all, and that we get to experience life and love in the way that we were made for.
Now I trust that this has made you crave the bush even more and this is the beginning of many more stories, lessons, and experiences that will be shared in future…
Now get out there and experience!!!!