In praise of wild spaces

2008-11-19 00:00

AS the green controversy rages and we become more or less informed about what is in store for us, it is enlightening to read about someone who has tackled the major problems of conservation at the rockface.

Dave Varty developed his R3-a-day safari business through blood and guts, and after fighting it out on the ground where elephants died of thirst and leopards mated, he took the struggle into the boardrooms of influential corporations to convince business leaders that if humankind hopes to save the animals it has to save the land and the rivers first.

Most of us are probably not aware of how much we have benefited from his efforts.

For some, the book will go a long way towards rekindling an interest in wildlife. There are some wonderful photographs and we are reminded of the immense powers of healing and renewal to be found in the bush for the mindful visitor. Criticisms are few. Varty or his editor should have noticed that the Woolly-necked Stork came through the windscreen of the aircraft twice and the mamba that “took a stroll” over his son Boyd also appears a second time. The wheeling and dealing in the boardrooms becomes a little tedious but we must give Varty his due here because he himself realises that the bush experience as epitomised by Londolozi was in danger of being swamped by the larger luxury hotel experience and this was not in keeping with his vision, despite the obvious financial rewards. The writer’s afterthought is sobering. If the ecosystems for which conservationists like Varty have fought are overrun by too many tourists and exploited by unscrupulous tour companies, much of what has been gained will be destroyed. Read all about it.

Gordon Crossley

• The Full Circle is on this year’s Exclusive Books’ List.

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