Penned by Mark and Delia Owens the inspiring book of the same name chronicles this remarkable couple’s 7-year stint in one of the world’s remotest wildlife refuges between 1974 and 1981.
The Central Kalahari today is still remote. It is still wild and it still offers an inkling into what life must have been like for those brave enough to awaken their senses all those years ago. Hyenas as kitchen mates, leopards dropping in for tea and the indomitable Blue Pride of lions as neighbours, this was daily life for the Owens in the fossilized riverbed of Deception Valley.
Mark Owens described to me the feeling when after all those years of solitude, in the company of these most special of soul mates, it came time to say goodbye.
For the final time, he and Delia bounced down their makeshift airstrip in their tiny Cessna and then once airborne banked to have a last look at the Acacia trees under which they had camped for all those years. There, lying in the shade, heads cast skywards, was the Blue Pride.
Mark tipped the wings of the plane once as a gesture of goodbye sadly knowing they would never return.
I remember how I wept as a boy reading the book and how I wept as a man reading Marks story to me. Nature and wildlife have so much to offer humanity yet we so seldom give it a chance to reveal itself in today’s endless pursuit of what we term growth and progress.
In 2010 Monique and I first visited the Central Kalahari. At 55 000 square kilometers, it is a huge area. At times in this whole area, there are probably less than 100 people. You are truly alone. There is no cellphone reception, no TV, no magazines and no social media. It is beautiful. It is peaceful. And above all it is wild.
I will never forget our first visit to where the Owens had once made camp. After a long, dusty and very hot journey, we finally arrived at a stand of what were the same defiant Acacia trees that the Owens had camped under more than 35 years before.
There, soaking up the warming early morning rays of the sun was a Kalahari Queen, the most magnificent of lionesses.
It’s easy to suggest she was of the Blue Pride’s lineage that had so often sought rest under the selfsame trees decades before, perhaps not. Suffice to say however that in Life things seldom happen without reason and moments such as these have a profound impact on those open to them.
Exhibition: 173cm x 116cm (68” x 45.5”)
Classic: 118cm x 79cm (46.5” x 31”)
© Chris Fallows 2018