Native American Proverb: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Of all the hundreds of places I’ve visited on this big, glorious earth we call home, there’s only 1 where I’ve felt anything close to resembling a total absence of human interference.
That’s not to say that our mark on this planet is all bad. Some of the most mind-boggling and amazing things I’ve had the privilege of witnessing were crafted through the pure ingenuity and cunning of human creativity. But as we continue to multiply and take over more and more of Mother Earth’s natural resources, I can’t help but feel that a crucial balance is being irrevocably changed.
Even in Tanzania’s Ngorogoro Crater, lauded as “one of the world’s most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries,” I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a large, open-air zoo. The walls of the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera might very well have the highest density of big game in Africa, but it might also have the most 4x4s with binocular-sporting people too.
The lions were as unfazed by this line of jeeps as I was uncomfortable, never mind the prey animals who could scarcely be bothered to move, let alone be startled by the never-ending series of vehicles that traversed their home.
It wasn’t until we moved onto the Serengeti portion of our safari that I truly felt nature unchecked.
We hardly ran into another jeep or person over the course of our 3 day adventure. Zebra and gazelles jumped in fear whenever we approached, wildebeest and elephants migrated along pathways as old as time, and lions mated unashamedly in the swaying grasses of the savannah.
When we lucked upon a cheetah right before she pounced on a gazelle who wandered unknowingly into her jaws (no dramatic running involved), she felt safe enough to summon the 3 cubs from their hiding place to eat. We watched from a safe distance for a good 30 minutes, while each of the cubs took turns being look-out.
And not a single other jeep showed up to disturb her reverie. Or ours.
Have you been on safari? Did it feel like “nature unchecked? How do you feel about our impact on earth? Are we in balance? What can we change?