Interview mit Graham Cooke, unserem Field Guide im Mithimkulu Camp am kleinen Lethaba River.
Bei unserer Ankunft im Mithimkulu Camp begrüsste uns Graham, unser „Crocodile Dundee“ des Busches. Das lag aber nicht nur an seinem Look, sondern vor allem an seiner Expertise, mit der er uns die kommenden drei Tage auf unseren Walking Safaris durch den Busch leitete.
Graham lässt seine Gäste seit über 30 Jahren die wahre Größe der Natur erkennen. Von Zentral- bis ins südliche Afrika. In Mithimkulu ist er nicht nur Field Guide, sondern auch als Camp Manager verantwortlich.
Wir haben mit ihm über seine Arbeit, seine Erfahrung und seine Geschichten gesprochen. Um so echt wie möglich zu bleiben, haben wir das Interview in Englisch belassen. (rechts oben ist aber auch ein Übersetzungstool in deutsch)
What’s your name and job description?
Graham Cooke in the name, job description almost everything, but first the lead field guide and manager here at Mithimkulu Camp.
How would you describe the task of your job?
Personally to get people in contact with the bush, that they enjoy it and have an educational aspect. People can learn al lot about the bush. My basic job is like a „natural diplomate“. I try to put people in touch while they come here in first place. I just merry that link to the bush.
What brought you to your job?
When I was growing up I found, that when you deal with animals they are always honest with you, they never deceive you. If they upset with you they let you know, I they want to be friendly they let you know, if they are aggressive they let you know. Where people are often more deceptive, they may mislead you. And I had always a link the animals in my life and I love to be outdoors.
Your favorite animals?
One of my favorite animals would be baby elephants , just because they are just cheeky, they got big moms as back-ups, they know that. That gives them a little more of edge in life that they can do what they want. And they have a good sense of humor and I like the outlook in life.
Are there animals you still want to see?
I wanna see tigers in the wild, bears, whales in the sea, tons of birds.
Is there a highlight of your stories?
When I tried to get accepted with that troop of baboons. That gave me an excellent insight just how intelligent these animals are, how a baboon looks at us humans and how you actually break down that division between animals and human.
In the beginning there were scared of me, because people have done horrible things to them, but through behavior and just being sensitive and reading each other, you can learn to communicate with them. I wanted to prove that to me. That was an fascinating moment, when you start to get in the baboons mind, when you start to understand them and you realize that they start to understand you. And you can definitely communicate with them. That whas a for me the biggest thing. To get that link established. And proof it that you can.
What do you expect from your guests?
I don’t expect anything particular from them. It is more from me that I make sure, that when my guest have a great understanding and a different look to the natural world. That they learn principles here, to put somebody in touch what it is already inside him, that they can build of from themselves because it is already there. To create that attitude whats already inside them, I try to make that real to them, to put people in touch with it.
Is there a funny tourist story you wanna share?
People often ask me if my guest don’t ask me stupid questions. But there isn’t any stupid question. When people come to the bush, they feel it, but they don’t have enough understanding to be able to interpret ate it and to get in touch with the feeling inside them. You start interpreting the animals movements and body elements. Than it opens up a total new world.
A nice story last was that a lady inside the vehicle saw a leopard approaching from behind. It was in an open clearing and the lady saw that leopard walking behind and disappearing in the shadow of the car. Than the leopard came out the other side and the lady turned around and said. „Ooh look, there is another one“.
What can guests expect from Mithimkulu?
It’s the walking aspect of it, appreciating how beautiful the area is and once you have appreciate that, you start to see how beautiful it could be. That will bring definitely more security to that area. Because, on a broader perspective, if we loose that connection the the bush, we loose all of this, we never are going to get it back.
Dear Graham, thank you for your time and thoughts you shared with us.
Anfang der 90er Jahre hat Graham zwei Leopardenjungtiere groß gezogen, die ihr Muttertier verloren hatten. Er hat sie begleitet, groß gezogen und im South Luangwa Valley wieder ausgewildert. Wenn ihr sein Leben mit den Leoparden nachlesen wollt, könnt ihr das.
Sein Buch gibt euch einen einzigartigen Einblick in das Abenteuer seines Lebens und in die atemberaubende Beziehung, die Graham mit den unglaublichen Großkatzen geteilt hat.