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Watch Wednesday – Guidance from Giants

By 1st Jul 2021Jul 15th, 2021Watch Wednesday


As the world lurches and stumbles forward to make sense of travel in 2021, there are some apparent fundamental truths and trends. We are seeing, and adjusting for, more family travel, more long-stay safaris, more work from camp options, slow safaris that take the edge of the need to see and achieve everything in 2 days, that manic drive to force as much ‘fun’ into every moment. Slow is better, more detailed. It is the ‘long form’ versus ‘sound bite’ version of Africa. It is analogy versus digital safari, not quite the vinyl record analogy, but close. It is the world that elephants live in, and they move at a very different pace. So once again, as a 3rd wave blows through our lives, I find myself turning to elephants for guidance.

A while ago, Beverly and I discovered 5 lessons from Elephants – all in one incident.
Thankfully I filmed it all so I can share it with you today.

We watched a herd of elephants as things got overly excited as they neared a waterhole, resulting in a baby elephant being pushed over and down into the mud. He yelled (trumpeted in his little voice), and the herd panicked, then, after a moment, just a moment, regrouped to perform the most incredible rescue plan. A sidebar lesson is that when elephants are unhappy, they let you know!

Females tugged at the calf, others pushed, and one (as you will see in this week’s video) went down on her knees and dug in under the calf to relieve the suction that was holding it back. Finally, and quickly, they built a ramp for the baby to walk out on.

During all of this, the herd communicated with gentle, reassuring rumbles, instruction, and warnings. It was, for us, the most extraordinary example of compassion, wisdom, empathyaltruism, and communication.

At Great Plains, you can rely on us to have empathy, especially during this new wave and, in fact, crises that we may face as an industry. I hope that we can continue to be compassionate and understanding at every single level to anyone in our circle (you, our guests, our staff, and the wildlife surrounding us all).

We operate in the hospitality sphere, of course, but I hope we take it to a different level, where altruism is a part of our culture, helping no matter what, just like the herd did for that baby elephant.

Thanks to years of being with these great guides – the elephants who have provided us with so many examples of their wisdom – we don’t have to reinvent this stuff. They already showed us.

And communication. So, many of you may wonder why we put out a note like this every Wednesday, and one or two may ask whether it is over-communicating. In times of crisis, and let us face it, there is no better description of what we are all going through now; it is vital that you hear from us.

Some messages are about the future, some about the past. At times it is about protocols to keep everyone safe, and sometimes I hope, to inspire or encourage reflection.

For that family of elephants, their communications ranged from reassurances to warnings, details around ramp building to rallying calls, just like the variety of communications we send to you, our family.

I know the feelings produced by an elephant’s soft rumbles when sitting amongst them. But, mostly, it takes me to a place where I know I am not alone. I hope our gentle communications do the same for you.

Change may be slow, but it is steady.