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Nature Continues To Heal

James Hendry originally wanted to write an amusing yarn in the lead up to the Migration. But the world has been flipped onto its back since then
Sunrise Ballooning in the Mara is a magnificent way to start the day

The Mardi Gras (call it what you will) migration season is, you know, when the two million wildebeest, zebra, eland and Thomson’s gazelles arrive along with thousands of excited tourists and their guides. In my opinion, The Migration is nature's greatest celebration. Yes, there are a lot of tourists and yes many of them (and their guides) behave like ill-mannered gibbons at an eat-all-you-can banana buffet, but for the most part it is just so exciting to be part of the earth’s exuberant celebration. The abundance of the herds, the hunting prides, the quiet spots away from the madness where the grass blows on the East African wind recalling and kindling the ancient memory of wild in us all.

The endless migratory herds in the Mara Triangle

Last year at this time, people around the world who had dreamed of coming to Africa to see the thundering herds of planet earth’s greatest spectacle, were preparing for their trips. They headed to outdoor stores to buy completely unnecessary ‘Out of Africa’ clothing in an attempt to Merylise or Robertise their outfits. Others stocked up on books and read voraciously about Africa, her people and her wildlife. Many just dreamed of what was to come - of what it would be like to sit amongst the gnuing herds, to follow the prides through the grass, to hear, smell and see the awesome spectacle of a river crossing.

This year, however, it has all changed. Travellers wait for the green light to travel to mystical Africa, their plans on hiatus - not knowing if the bucket list trip of which they’ve so long dreamed will ever come to pass. All around them, for the first time in history, Homo sapiens faces a threat to every single one of its members. All of us are looking for healing - physical for the victims, psychological and spiritual for everyone.

The dust and the drama of the great migration

For me, wilderness is the best place to look for the mental and spiritual healing we need to survive this collective trauma. There is something about the unchanging way in which nature has continued despite our human catastrophe that is so grounding, so comforting. Right now, as we grapple with the global pandemic, the mighty herds of the migration are thundering their way north and west into the woodlands of the Serengeti’s western corridor where the carnival of the rut will take place. It gives me enormous comfort to imagine the bulls, testosterone levels rising, setting up their postage stamp-sized territories and herding the long-suffering cows into them - focussed solely on procreation; all of the participants utterly oblivious to the struggles of those strange bipedal things that appear from time to time in diesel belching vehicles.

The preditors enjoy the bounty that the migration has to offer

Further north, in the Mara Triangle, the long rains are dumping their rejuvenating load on grasslands. Seeds will sprout in the rich, black-cotton soils, perennials will offer new leaves. A verdant sheen will blanket the land - all this, albeit unconsciously, in preparation to receive the zebra, wildebeest, eland and gazelle of the migration in a few months’ time.

It should also be a time to prepare for the thousands of tourists who had planned to come and experience the excitement; tourists whose continued fascination with the crossings, gorging prides, massive crocodiles and gobsmacking abundance allow the Mara Serengeti to remain the wild place that it is.

Majestic sunrise in the Maasai Mara

From Angama Mara, the magisterial views of the storms rolling in are another reminder of our human insignificance to nature. Whether or not this plague will clear soon enough for people to visit the Mara this year is unclear but the wild has no intention of putting anything on hold - the rains will fall, the hooves will gallop north. I, hope that you, like me, are able to take comfort from the fact that nature will continue with or without us and while she might not be waiting for us, she will be here in all her majesty and wonder when we, humanity, finally triumph.

Filed under: The Mara

Tagged with:

crocodile , Great Migration , Migration , Wildebeest , Zebra

About: James Hendry

James grew up in Johannesburg and has an honors degree in Science and a Masters in Human Development. After a year as a guitar teacher and sports coach, James moved to the wilderness, where over the years, he has worked as a safari guide, head ranger, guide trainer, land manager and lodge manager, photographer and wildlife TV presenter. James has a dry, sarcastic wit that reflects the inspiration and joy he derives from observing the human condition and the natural environment. He speaks both Shangane and isiZulu and is the author and co-author of four South African best-selling books.

Browse all articles by James Hendry Meet the angama team

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This Week At Angama #130 31 July 2020 As this year’s Migration continues to progress and evolve, we’re reminded it’s important not to overlook the other players in the Mara – even the smallest ones. By Tyler Davis
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This Week At Angama #71 14 June 2019 Let’s have a closer look at the Great Migration and consider possible reasons why it may have arrived early By Adam Bannister
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Join the Conversation (15 comments)

Comments (15):

Ann Del Tredici

1 May 2020

Delightful read. The words are like the cake and the photos are like thick layers of frosting between the words--together rich in feeling and texture. Makes me long for the Maasai Mara!

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    3 May 2020

    Thank you for these lovely words - please don't stop dreaming of the Mara

Elana Ochse

1 May 2020

I enjoy everything you write, James. Thanks.

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    1 May 2020

    Thanks Elana - I know James will be delighted to read this

Brenda Schenck

30 April 2020

James Hendry has an awesome way with words. This was very well written... Thank you!

Barbara L. Taylor

30 April 2020

I have been entertained and educated by James for five years. Thank you.

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    30 April 2020

    Hi Barbara - James is certainly a world class entertainer and we are delighted his is part of the extended Angama family


30 April 2020

Thank you for your thoughts and observations on the Mara. I may never get there, but it makes the heart smile to know it is there just being what nature intended.

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    30 April 2020

    Thanks MJ - please never stop dreaming of coming to Africa

Auntchristine Pell

29 April 2020

I got chills reading this and seeing the images. All beautiful and genuine, authentic.

Sally Wynne

28 April 2020


Marie-Anne Kerdachi

28 April 2020

I’v never been to see the crossing....would be really special for me. One day I hope. Beautiful article goes right to the heart.

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