by Editor Lourens Durand
The Big 5 immediately comes to mind when conversation turns to the wilds of Africa. Lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo have earned this distinction because, in the early days of colonial free-for-all and mindless hunting, they were the most ferocious and dangerous animals bent on destroying the men that threatened their lives.
Nowadays, there is more meaning attached to the Spiritual 5 of the environment, as proposed by Grant Hine, formerly of the Field Guides Association of South Africa. The Spiritual 5 embraces the concepts of:
- Wide open spaces
- The rhythm of the environment.
This, of course is not confined to Africa, but to any place where one can find peace in the great outdoors.
Let’s look at each of the 5 in turn:
Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind and taking time to appreciate the wide-open spaces of natural environments, we experience a sense of tranquillity creeping into our being. Our minds are quietened. We can seemingly see forever and nothing else matters…
This new-found tranquillity progresses into an appreciation of the silence of nature (although the only silence is the lack of human noise). The sounds of nature are always present – wind whispering through the long grass, the buzzing of cicadas and katydids, the soft, haunting hoot of the owl at night, or the gentle rippling of a flowing stream.
Besides adding to the tranquillity and serenity of a natural landscape, water is essential for life, quenching our thirst, allowing plants and trees to grow, and facilitating the generation of electricity. Too much water, though, can lead to disastrous flooding. Too little, on the other hand, may result in catastrophic droughts and suffering.
Fire has a mesmerising effect – staring into the flames of a campfire can almost put one into a trance. It also provides warmth and heat for cooking and is essential for regenerating ecosystems; on the other hand, wildfires can wipe out entire communities and cause immeasurable damage.
Finally, there is the rhythm of nature. It is almost like a slow, unrelenting, undulating, monotonous beating of a drum – kadoof… kadoof… kadoof …kadoof. Days turn to nights, seasons change, new lives begin, old lives end.
So, these are the Spiritual 5. Unfortunately, the scenes in which they are set are at risk from air pollution, global warming, population growth and habitat destruction.
Perhaps, in the long run, the rhythm of nature will take care of things?