William Shakespeare wrote: “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Here he meant that by looking into another’s eyes one could see their hidden emotions, feelings and attitudes. From an early age we as humans learn a great deal about communication and interaction through basic eye contact. This is not surprising when we consider the fact that a great deal of human interaction is non verbal in nature, eye contact is a major medium through which we communicate our needs and wants.
In the same way WE use our eyes as doorways/portholes through which to observe the windows of other souls. I’m referring to my first “eye” experience with the Khuma (Kuhuma / Nkuhuma) lions this past Monday.
Once again it’s funny how these things come about … last Sunday night I was directing in final control and Simon and Pieter were out on drive. From my seat behind the screens I observed with you as they found Karula and shared brief moments with her. The signal was bad and I was getting slightly frustrated with the constant switching over to the waterhole due to this. Yet, as we all know Karula means “peaceful” in Shangaan and the feeling from you, and the beautiful creature WE were observing, conveyed exactly this. Not at one stage did I get the feeling that anyone on drive was getting exasperated by the technical problems we were just all peacefully thankful for the few glimpses of this beautiful creature. At the same time in the back of my mind I was getting concerned with my lack of “cat” sightings while on the Jigga … I even mentioned to the crew in camp that I thought there could be a potential jinx!
As we set off on Monday morning and the radio chatter between Pieter and Greg (one of the guides and a friend from Bush Lodge) started, I didn’t even take notice – not for one moment did I even consciously think WE would spending time with a pride of lions. So I set myself about the task of manning the camera and just enjoyed the pleasure of being out in the bush. The mornings are truly magical and there is a prevailing sense of awaking and new fresh beginnings. It was indeed a beginning, the beginning of a very special ± 30 minutes, minutes and moments shared with you. Before I get to the “eyes”, I need to mention that it is a pleasure to share all of this with you. In the chat room that evening one of the “chatters” mentioned how she would of loved to have been on the Jigga – the fact is WE all were on the Jigga living through the same experience. The only difference is that Pieter and I could smell the meat!
Now the eyes – while on camera in the middle of the feasting pride, Pieter asked me to describe the moment. At that point I was totally absorbed in what I was seeing and the question kind of put me on the spot. I think the answer was something along the lines of, “Uh.., it’s their eyes..” and thinking back it was their eyes that completely captivated me. These were eyes with a lot of soul and past experiences were etched on each pair of iirises. They seemed to be staring straight through us, assessing us, determining our intent. They were alert and filled with pride – to me they were hypnotizing. Yes, as with the ellies (especially Wonky) and as with the leopards (especially Karula and her mother Safari) these are eyes I long to understand better through a better understanding of their past and exciting future.
Lastly, another big thank you to all that were involved in our amazing win, WE can just imagine the “eyes” that WE’ll share together on the day we open the taps in Dixie.
Written by Lieschen Smith