TRUE LOVE.. 

¨Beneath a moonlit sky,
adrift in pleasure,
bonding their love together.

Many summers came and went,
her love never swayed,
in celebrations of their summers together…..
¨ – Final Voyage – Bill Kamen

The word ¨Love¨, is such a strong word!! Add the words ¨ for Africa¨, and it becomes even more powerful with life-long memories. That is what we embrace and live for!! The deep, unconditional love for Deception Valley Lodge, the Conservancy, Fauna, Flora, Culture and Guests. Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional, physical and mental states. It refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment. Love is considered to be unfaltering with its virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection as the unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another, which can include both Human and every aspect of Nature.

February, is known across the globe as the month of love, which is currently spread throughout every precious inch of the Kalahari, with the gentlest of breezes. The first appearance of nature´s love, which is equivalent with the Valentine´s month was the Snow Moon on the 9th of February. It is often wondered where the interesting names of moons come from…. Many of the ancient month names are used today as Full Moon names. A common explanation is, that the Colonial Americans adopted many of the Native American names and incorporated them into the modern calendar. The Algonquin tribes, gave each month´s moon a name based on shared aspects of culture that would last over time like the weather and crop seasons. For February, it was the snow that lent the full moon its name, however, February´s full moon was also sometimes known as the Hunger Moon, as it was the month when hunting became most difficult. The above explanations are off course relevant to the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the lunar month names are not that prominent, however, in some areas the February full moon is known as the Harvesting moon. In the Kalahari this full moon had a soft, caressing Champagne colour. What is better than a glass of good Champagne to celebrate life and the environment? The stars were the mesmerizing bubbles…

The colour red is associated with evoking feelings of passion, desire and love. It’s known to make our blood pressure rise, as well as our heart and respiration rates—sounds about like how love makes you feel, right? That’s exactly why red is the color of Valentine’s Day. Animals, birds in particular, are all about red too. In the Animal Kingdom, females are more attracted to males who have red on them. Red signifies high status, and they prefer their mates to have high status. We, here at Deception, are extremely privileged to have so many birds falling into the desirable category. There are simply too many to mention!!

Two magnificent species, that don´t always get the recognition they deserve, are the Red-billed buffalo-weaver and Red-billed Quelea. Red-billed Buffalo Weavers live communally in large stick constructions, built and defended by a single, dominant male. Within the nest, individual chambers are constructed connecting to the outside by a tunnel. The male invites many different females to occupy each of these chambers by fluttering his drooped wings for them. Quite a Casanova to be honest!! If the female should comply to his romantic gesture, the pair will mate and she will line her portion of the nest with greenery, and proceeds to incubate and care for her offspring alone. Copulation is unique in comparison to other bird species, for it can be a passionate 2 minutes! Most of the other species only takes a few seconds.

The males of the Red-billed Queleas have distinct breeding and non-breeding eclipse plumage and the bill colour may change seasonally in both sexes. Breeding is synchronized by co-ordinated social behaviours. Different from the Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, the Red-billed Queleas are monogamous, where the males will assist with nesting duties, which is definitely true love and commitment. Bird parties are a type of Inter-specific Allelomimetic behaviour (copy-cat behaviour). Queleas take this to the extreme, and droves of literally thousands of birds respond to a change in direction by just one of their members, and collectively they manage the most perfectly synchronized flight, appearing as ever-changing dark shapes over the Kalahari. The melodious calls of the groups, when you take a sundowner drive to Toti Pan, are a symphony on the ear.

Unconditional and true love doesn´t only occur between couples, but sometimes it is even more intense between family and friends. It is said that sisters and brothers are the truest, purest forms of love, family and friendship, knowing when to hold you and when to challenge you, but always being part of you. Lion prides are an amazing example of unfaltering, family love in the Animal Kingdom. The shenanigans and little disagreements, between the lion cubs are sibling love in its best form. The Lion is the only social cat in the African Savannas. By cooperating in prides, lions are able to kill bigger animals and also improve the survival of their young. Lionesses often synchronize their breeding. This is useful as all the mothers will then mutually suckle each other´s cubs. All the lionesses in a pride are related and remain within the pride for life. They may split up into subgroups and operate in different parts of the territory, but will join up from time to time. They communicate through a range of behaviours, and their expressive movements are highly developed. Lions in a pride will perform peaceful, tactile actions such as licking each another and rubbing heads. Head rubbing, or nuzzling, is a common greeting behaviour among lions. Very similar to when we, as humans, embrace each another with a tight hug. The pride communicates through a variety of of vocalisations, including purrs, snarls, miaws and hissing. Their vocalisations vary in intensity and pitch.

A few nights back, we were extremely blessed to experience almost all the communication varieties. Even though we got woken up at 2am by the thunderous roar, it was worth it!! One simply just cannot get enough of that magical sound. The pride of ¨Blondie¨ moved closer and closer to the lodge area. They must be rather intrigued, as most cats are, by the renovations going on. On the other hand, being the King of Deception, Blondie might feel that it is in his royal duties to inspect the work. Around 4 am, the playful noises of the cubs, now troublesome teenagers, came closer. We heard them chasing one another on the walkways. At one point, they must have been experiencing utmost excitement as it almost sounded like a horse galloping! They were jumping on each another, rolling and play fighting just as loving siblings do. Then, all of a sudden that naughty streak came to the surface. They tried to open the outside cabinet door to the cleaning equipment. When told, to leave it alone, they just looked at me like naughty children caught in the act, and then ran to mom for protection. How can one not have an intense and pure love for these moments and animals?

Use this month, and every other month of the future, to show those that you care about, how much they truly mean to you. They are rare, and every moment with them must be cherished. Appreciate the time you get to spend and become one with Nature. Join us at Deception to experience a unique, unforgettable and warm Love!

LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL!!

Janie Swart

Lodge Manager