Shamwari Dreams

See lion on a game drive in Shamwari Game Reserve.
The beam played the shadows as the two lionesses moved through the grass, stopping to listen, then moving again.

Shamwari - A Dream of my Past

My emotions flew unchecked. I was experiencing a childhood dream come true. It was my first sighting of lions in the Eastern Cape. Sometime during the night a roar reverberated across the bush. It was a moment in time.I lay awake pondering the significance of the roar to my settler forefathers, seeking a new life in a strange and savage land. Would the roar have unsettled or excited them. Did it add to the uncertainty of the future? Would they have turned back had they been given a choice? It was a world very different from where they had come. How close had they been to where I was now?Shamwari was a weekend getaway that turned into a dream of returning a wilderness back to the riches of its past. The early explorers who saw the Eastern Cape before the arrival of the British settlers, in the early parts of the 1800's, record an area rich in wildlife, but with the settlers came domestic stock in the form of cattle and later goats. The vegetation was not ideally suited to cattle farming and land degradation set in.Shamwari began as a 1200 hectare badly denuded goat farm when Port Elizabeth businessman Adrian Gardiner acquired it as a weekend getaway. After researching the history of the Eastern Cape he began to dream of returning the area to its former glory.I grew up living a dream of the Africa of old. It was a dream of wild lands and big game, where a lion's roar would echo through the valleys of the Eastern Cape. It had been almost 150 years since a wild lion had thrown a challenge in the air. My dreams carried me to wilderness areas beyond my childhood playground. It was to be almost twenty years before I returned.Shamwari was born from a dream and today stands as an example of many things. It stands as an example of determination in the face of almost impossible odds. It stands for the future of the environment in Africa and the future of human relations in the new order that is South Africa.by Leigh Kemp

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