“It will awaken your senses not only to the beauty of nature but to the plight of South Africa’s wildlife, many of which are teetering on a thin line for survival. It will make you a warrior to end the abuse and help others understand that without a global effort and educational initiative to stop the poaching, countless generations of humans yet unborn will never know the meaning of born free and wild.” Nancy Chuda


Traveling to South Africa and landing first at Saxon Villa and Spa1 set the stage and the agenda for what would soon follow.

Two restful nights and a hearty breakfast, then we were zipped off to Zulu Camp Shambala Private Reserve. A  less formal location surrounded by the majestic beauty of the land but truly a privilege to have the opportunity to visit. To be honest, there was so much more to take in but also the experience is meant to enlighten and educate. Our accommodations were splendid as was the architecture. The staff was incredible and our guide Matthew was one of the best.



We are slowly losing the great prides of lions and soon to loose the magnificent black and white rhinos. They are diminishing as I write. The Big Five was always a tourist catchall and still is but what’s missing now are the animals and their right to live and dwell in the environment from which they were born.

As a youth, I read both Born Free and  Living Free by Joy Adamson and later was equally inspired by Jane Goodall. Both women are heroes and mentors; they live and have loved life by finding true meaning and understanding of the even greater  lives and existence of African lions and chimpanzees. Jane Goodall’s research transformed the way we understand chimpanzees, other animals and our role in caring for the planet we all share. Her work with young people and communities continues to inspire individual action to help people, animals and our natural world.


Jane with Uruhara pant-hooting, 1996.
Jane with Uruhara pant-hooting, 1996.

Having had the opportunity to speak with experts about the rhino crises I stumbled across a video produced by Paul Mills who has dedicated his time and efforts to unveil this horrific trend. It touched by heart and so many others. This is a warning for those who are squeamish about animals facing slaughter I would skip it but if you want to understand the predicament please watch!

Crossing paths with rhinos for the first time awakened me to their fragility yet tremendous strength. What became obvious out in the bush is that rhinos by nature keep to themselves but sadly their horns are in great demand for no purpose whatsoever.

There is a myth connected to medicinal powers in Vietnam. Most of the animals that live in South Africa almost 40% were poached last year. Some hunting is permitted for the irrational belief  that this act adds to the economy. This clip from the BBC exposes the truth. Watch!

When you come to understand the fragility and this false sense of belief that has spread throughout Asia for the horn and its substance, which has absolutely no proven scientific value to cure any disease or remedy or any sexual dysfunction whatsoever, the notion that it does demands an educational initiative that will prohibit the exportation and sale. The African rhino now faces extinction. We must, STOP THE BLEEDING of the rhinos. All who visit South Africa must pledge their support to put a stop to this horrific trade.


For me, visiting Saxon’s Zulu Camp and getting to follow in the footsteps of Nelson Madiba Mandela was an experience of a lifetime. To visit his private home, now the Nelson Mandela Center for Reconciliation part of the Shambala Private Game Reserve brought a greater understanding of the man and his monumental achievements to end Apartheid and lead others on the path to freedom. Today, many South African’s who were born after Mandela’s passing are recognized as Born Free’s. For many youth their lives were made better thanks to the sacrifices Nelson Mandela made.


A great book to read about his character and relentless efforts to bring about this change was written by Zelda la Grange his longtime personal assistant. “Good Morning, Mr. Mandela,” traces her history with the president from day one. La Grange share a fascinating look into the heart and soul of the man whose devotion and love for his country and people transformed a global initiative for everlasting freedom and world peace. Zelda grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet just a few years after the end of Apartheid she would become a most trusted assistant to Nelson Mandela, growing to respect and cherish the man she had been taught was the enemy. Her autobiography, Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time.


President Nelson Mandela accompanied by his personal assistant Zelda la Grange

Editor’s Notes: Special thanks to our South African team for their support. Saxon Villa and Spa director of communications and media and award recipient Nicolette Fortuin, documentary film maker Paul Mills, Zabella Lodge Manager for Zulu Camp Shambala Reserve, Zelda la Grange, TravelSmith and Equestrian Designs.


Later in my series on Africa we will venture to Kenya and visit Ol Jogi and learn first hand how individuals can take the initiative and change this historic dynamic abuse of Africa’s most treasured animals.