Sona and I were sipping hot tea in our balcony on a wet Sunday evening. We were about 6 months away from celebrating our 5th anniversary. The travel buff in us was kicking again and we were contemplating the dream destination to celebrate our next milestone. July is the monsoon season in most of South Asia. Hence we wanted to travel somewhere different.
A couple of our friends had just returned from Africa and their experience sparked the thought for a safari. Both Sona and I have always been extremely fond of animals to say the least. Moreover, July happens to be the time of the Great Wildebeest Migration. It seemed like a perfect idea. And that’s how we ended up spending 9 days in Kenya and Tanzania in July this year. While planning, I never realized, that this experience would be so different than a standard vacation. It was when we retuned back, that I realized how deeply touched I was by the nature. It was like being transported millions and millions of years back in time. This experience impacted me more than I could have ever imagined. And hence this post to share some of my learnings from the mother nature.
Here I go! Sharing the top 7 lessons that nature taught me in 9 days:
1. Nature means perfection
Everything in the nature is simply perfect and happens for a reason. Whether it is the color of a species or its body structure or its eating habits, everything is flawless. For instance, the elephants feed on grass and leaves for 18 hours a day. Imagine what would happen if elephants were carnivores and had to feed 18 hours on meat! Vultures are scavengers and keep the jungle clean by feeding on the dead remains. Imagine what would happen if they wouldn’t feed on the remain. It might lead to an epidemic! Herbivores massively out number the carnivores in the jungle. Imagine what would happen if it was the other way round! All this made me realize that each species in the jungle has a role to play to maintain the delicate balance and is perfectly suited for that role.
2. Be kind to nature
Humans have exploited nature from times immemorial. If we think about the pre historic times, a large part of the earth was covered by the jungles. Now we find wildlife in small pockets around the world. Due to the reducing natural habitats, poaching, changing weather patterns, countless species are extinct and many are on the verge of extinction. Rhinos and Tigers are classic examples of endangered species. The destruction of the jungles is now impacting the humans too through climate change and global warming. Hence be kind to the nature and introspect your every action with a lens of sustainability!
3. Be Accepting
Animals were a perfect example of harmony in diversity. For instance, the wildebeest and zebras share the same grasslands and migrate together during the Great Migration from Serengeti to Masai Mara. They might be very different from each other but they live together in peace. Species of antelopes like Gazelles, or Topis or Dikdik are so differrent from one another but all choose to live together. The more accepting we can be for diversity (of all forms like cultures, practices, beliefs etc.) the more harmony and peace will surround us!
4. Run to live
When I was a child, I was fond of posters. One of my posters said, ‘Each day, to survive, the deer has to run faster than the fastest lion and each lion has to run faster than the slowest deer. So no matter whether you are a deer or a lion, when the sun rises, you better get running’. In this trip, I realized the true meaning of this phrase which goes beyond just running. The jungle is not kind to anyone and to survive, each animal has to be at the top of its game. Whether it is a lioness strategizing for hunting, baby elephants learning how to uproot grass, or a leopard learning how to walk stealthily to come within 5m of its prey, each animal has to learn the skills for survival. Moreover, they have to be the best at these skills everyday to increase the odds for survival. Something for us to be cognizant about to thrive in this world too.
5. Know your superpower and weakness
Like all of us, each animal has its strengths and weaknesses. But more importantly, they realize it and leverage this knowledge everyday. For instance, Hyenas don’t have a strong/big body, rather they thrive on teamwork. They can even kill a lion through teamwork. Cheetahs are the fastest animals on the planet, but they can run at the top speed for only 400 m, beyond which they can bleed to death. Hence its critical for the cheetah to stealthily approach the prey, as close as possible, before starting the chase to stand a chance of having a meal. Zebras can be outrun by the cats. Hence they stand in pairs to keep the vigil in opposite directions and alert the herd at the slightest sign of danger. It was fascinating to see how well animals understood themselves and their superpowers. Just if I could understand myself so well too!
6. Prioritize what truly matters
Most animal’s behavior is governed by the core instincts of hunger and love. Whether it’s millions of wildebeest traversing thousands of kilometers every year to follow the rains, or giraffes fighting with their long necks for a female, or a lion killing the cubs of a lioness from a different lion, it is all linked to these two core aspects. Though strange, it was common to see big cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards be surrounded (in some distance though) by herbivores like wildebeest and zebras. These cats were least bothered till the time they were well fed. Something for us to learn too, to ‘Prioritize what truly matters!’
7. It is lonely at the top
Lion is considered to be the king of the jungle and rightfully so. It has killer insticts, strong body and hunts in prides. Due to this, you will never see another species playing or jumping with the lions or cubs. Though we saw many herbivores, birds of different species hanging out together and having fun. Though being at the top might seem to be great but, it usually means that you have few friends. So next time you see your manager, just be a friend and ask them for a coffee!
It was an unimaginable experience to see these social interactions between animals and appreciate the reasoning behind it. There have been many more learnings but to avoid making the post too long, I decided to prioritize on the key ones. Overall I will highly recommend you all to go through this experience, if you haven’t so far. There is nothing more pure than raw nature. You will get to experience the real laws of nature in action and I guarantee that it will transform you as a person for the lifetime!
And until the next post, lets dance to Hakuna Matata!