My Story of Animals

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Where did it all begin? My love for animals? I grew up on a sheep farm in rural New Zealand. My Dad loved animals and passed it onto me.

I think he secretly hoped for a boy when I was born because he taught me so many skills with animals mostly sheep, cows and horses although there were crazy adventures with wild boar and deer.

Fast forward many years later when I embarked on an African overland safari in my 20s. Together with a girlfriend, I joined an organized safari truck tour with 12 others in Nairobi, Kenya.

In total we spent a month in Kenya exploring the coastline and further inland where we visited Lake Naivasha, famous for its pink flamingos.

An avid photographer at the time, I was keen to get closer to the flamingos for some great shots along the lake edge. Too close it seems!

As I stood poised with my camera, I heard loud crashing from the bush behind me and turned to face a charging Water Buffalo. If I had reached out my hand I could have stroked its back as it veered off at the last minute.

In retrospect I can only conclude it was not my destiny to die in Africa!

We travelled further south to the Masai Mara Game Reserve and over the border into Tanzania onto the plains of the Serengeti. Seeing the wild animals in their natural habitat had been one of my wildest dreams.

We saw every animal imaginable: lion, giraffe, elephant, cheetah, leopard, antelope, rhino, hippopotamus and the most amazing sunsets!

There is something so sacred and primal sleeping in a tent in the African wild in an unfenced enclosure listening to the low growls of nearby lions at night. I will carry those memories forever.

We travelled overland all the way to South Africa with many other adventures but this story is about the animals.

In South Africa I visited Kruger National Park with four friends in a Kombi van (see photo) and again thrilled to the sights and sounds of wild Africa.

We spent five days in the park and saw 17 lions on the first day. We met other visitors who saw none and counted ourselves lucky.

Fast forward to the mid 1990s, when I had a different encounter with animals in Australia. I took a job as General Manager of African Safari magazine.

Another adventure writing about African animals and interviewing wildlife travelers. I re-lived the former safari days of my youth.

If you were to ask me where did the seeds of animal communication come from, then I would have to say deepest, darkest Africa.

Image: Karen Bowller. Safari days in Kruger National Park, 1979. That’s me in the middle.

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