Experiences that Change Perspectives
By Jean Campbell, Founder of Frosch Vacations
Traveling from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg, we passed two African wild dogs jogging along edge of the road. It was obvious one was injured, and had a snare cutting into its neck. They ran off through a fence and disappeared. We were all saddened, knowing that the end would not be long, but there was nothing we could do.
Later that same night, at a beautiful hotel in Franschhoek, we were hosted for dinner by the couple who owned the safari camp we’d just come from, as well as the hotel we were dining in. I happened to be sitting next to the husband, meeting him for the first time. It was a wonderful night, and we chatted about lots of things. During the course of the evening I mentioned seeing the dogs. Initially it was thought it couldn’t have been African wild dogs. At the time, it was believed there were none (or very few) within that vast area. I was absolutely certain of our sighting, and was able to produce a couple of photos. The evening wrapped up, and we all went to our rooms, maybe around 10-11pm.
The next morning around 9am, I was advised there was a phone message for me.
The owner had called to let me know, they had found the pair of dogs, and (keeping them together) were able to remove the snare and treat the wound. The expectation was that the dog would fully recover with no ill effects.
I found myself unexpectedly and profoundly moved by this experience. This was an example where one person valued someone, they had never met, enough to fully engage with them, and by doing so that person saved the life of a threatened species.
I don’t think I have ever come across someone that seemed to understand the art of communication so well. Both in the sense of engaging in conversation (when there was plenty temptation to move on), and perhaps more importantly, in the art of listening. There were so many reasons this conversation might not have even taken place. I was only one of a group traveling together, and there were many other lively conversations going on around the table all evening long.
I was moved by his openness to receive information, regardless of any distractions or preconceived thoughts. The empathy, and follow up to let me know how the story had ended. The deep respect and care for nature; weighing up whether action should be taken. It is most often required that nature is left to take its course when it comes to safari areas. In this case the situation was so clearly man-made that nature’s actual course was being hindered, and jeopardizing the life of a threatened species.
What might be learned is limitless when we value others, are mindful, present, and when we listen. This experience left me wanting to try harder, to be a better person on a daily basis, and to be a much better traveler.
We had just come from Royal Malewane and were staying at La Residence.
Phil and Liz Biden were our hosts, and are the most quality people you could meet.
Kudos to them both for living transformational lives.