Passionate conservationist Anton Lategan has spent his life in the African bush and is dedicated to imparting his knowledge of the natural world to others. Managing Director of EcoTraining, the largest trainer of professional field guides in Africa – of which WildArk is a shareholder – Anton’s mission is to educate people on the importance of the wilderness and the processes that drive natural ecosystems. His hope is that participants, armed with this knowledge, leave their courses and go out and make a difference to the way they look after our planet in their day-to-day lives.
People don’t impress me, nature does. All of nature is interconnected. Each organism has a niche and performs a role that it is born to fulfill. There are natural processes and controls that keep life in check. The collective sustains the balance and all life responds within these natural parameters.
I love seeing nature express itself. It constantly reveals such intelligent and immaculate solutions. It adapts and protects the collective by sensitive signals and responses.
Somewhere along the way man started behaving in a selfish and insensitive way. It is simply not intelligent to destroy the system that we depend on.
We have a caring heart that needs to be inclusive of all life. Our behaviour must be steered not only by the logical steps we need to implement for human survival but we should be enlightened enough to value all life because we cherish life itself.
The significance of the recent drought. Nature keeps talking to us but are we listening? The world is mostly a finite resource. Humans behave in a manner that we can anticipate perpetual growth. This stems from greed and the misconception that happiness and security is linked to material gain. The tilted global axis results in seasons. Seasons provide times of plenty and lean times. All life behaves accordingly. We should be living according to natural parameters. The adaptations that man has come up with to counter this are innovative and temporary because we simply go into environmental debt from another resource or season and that too will have further negative impacts. These factors and other natural components such as water, carbon, soil etc should be the base that the entire world’s economic, social and political framework should be geared around. As we pollute more, plough more, deforest more, fish more and burn more we pull the natural harmony out of kilter. The drought is our early warning sign. We are being offered a lesson to take heed of. Nature is recalibrating. These recalibrations will increase in the form of more severe droughts, floods, storms, and fires. Do we honestly think our materialistic based economic, tech and political structures can cope with what nature is capable of? The drought will eliminate the weak in nature, do we honestly think we are exempt from this?
Survival. Short term survival implies food, water, shelter. Sustained survival insists that this is done sustainably in harmony with our environment. Man’s behavior demonstrates the former. I am concerned and committed to the latter.
Lessons to be learned from nature. Interrelatedness, this implies interdependence of all life, efficiency without waste and a cohesive purpose because all life is born to fulfil a function to keep the system going. We are simply part of a complex system, we need to relearn about this system in order to survive. If we behave correctly, health, happiness and harmony are possible on a level that modern materialism cannot provide.
Lessons I have learned from the bush. You can experience the interrelatedness of all things in the natural world. You realize very clearly we are one part of a complex and beautiful story. I am bombarded with this all day and every time I am in the bush. We are one system, we are a part of it.
Importance of EcoTraining. I feel that modern man is being misled into an empty and frustrating way of living. We act like sheep on the way to the abattoir, carrying on with our daily lives being miraculously “unaware” of the destination and consequences. Nature offers continuous lessons on energy, social behavior, resource management, population, disease, hygiene, health, family, self worth, purpose, physiology and production. The understanding we can gain from nature is fundamentally more important than any other teaching because it always considers all things. There is no right to be selfish or short sighted, there are immediate and dire consequences to acting out of kilter, nature will demonstrate this. If people can experience the harmony of nature and understand these principles apply to self, families, communities, businesses and countries they can change their behavior with excellent and wonderful prospects.
What inspires you. God, nature and the goodness in people.
Describe your ultimate day. Disappearing into the wild before the sun comes up, being out there where we belong, being surrounded by our ancient community of life. Being led by intuition and my senses and being close to God throughout. I return from such days with absolute clarity and conviction and lunge back into the fray!
What has been your wildest experience this year. I spend most of my time in the African bush and its always rewarding interacting with elephants or lions but this incident made me laugh. I was scuba diving in Mauritius and came across a large shark in a dark cave … I wasn’t expecting it so was close to it before I realized it was there. I bit right through my mouth piece of the regulator! True to nature, we left each other alone in harmony.