In her notes on the brief history of Addo, Jeni Smithers mentions that the park was literally borne out of tragedy. In a sense, the idea of this book, too, was inspired during tragic circumstances. We are currently under level 3 Covid-19 lockdown and she, like every other nature guide and tourism operation, had no source of income. The tourism industry is one of the hardest hit by the implementation of the strictest lockdown measures worldwide and four months later, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. For an industry that contributes four hundred and twenty-six billion Rand to the economy annually, many guides did not qualify for government assistance and approximately one and a half million tourism partners are on their knees.
Jeni lost her business due to the corvid-19 outbreak.
This is her story: “There was a little voice from within that told me I couldn’t do it, but my heart said otherwise. My heart simply reminded me that I needed to get out of my head, concentrate on something positive, something that I would enjoy and that would give me the opportunity to share my knowledge as a guide and showcase my favourite photos taken in the park. It also told me that even if it never got published, I would have survived the mental anguish that tortured my soul during the dark days of lockdown, and I would have a memoir of note. I listened to my heart, which also did not surprise me, because I’ve always been one to do everything with the utmost passion and my heart is filled with Addo and every single creature that lives within her. So, this is my book. A book written from my heart. The same heart that proudly guided thousands of guests through Addo, happily sharing knowledge, experience and passion for its wildlife and biomes. I have so many stories of funny experiences, hilarious moments with guests, sad moments when we all cried and those moments when no-one dared speak, nor breathe, too afraid to make a sound until the moment had passed and we all looked at each other with big eyes, then burst into laughter of utter relief and awe.”
This book is not intended as a field guide, but rather a guided safari through each loop, relating some of the amazing sightings in that area, to celebrate the innate beauty, history and sense of peace that the Addo Elephant National Park presents to each and every person who enters her domain.