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Christmas Presents

Senses and sensibility

The new Super Sensory Safari in Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park demonstrates how innovative ideas and specialist guiding are enriching the experience of the modern-day safari.

How would nature build a city?” The question comes from our guide, Rob Janisch. And the answer, it seems, lies in the towering termite mound around which our small group is gathered. We pause, cogs whirring. Three warthogs stare from the back of the clearing, as though aghast at our ignorance.

Day two of our Super Sensory Safari – a new adventure from African Bush Camps – and already it’s clear that this is not your average game-viewing experience. “How would nature make a chair?” Rob asked earlier, as we searched the thorny ground for somewhere to sit. Or, as I struggled to clear dust from my lens: “How would nature clean something?”

There are no right or wrong answers. Rob just wants us to look a little differently at nature. And out here in the bush, inspiration is everywhere. Take this termite mound: he explains how not only is it a miracle of engineering, complete with intricate air-conditioning systems, but the process of its construction also enriches the soil for everything else. Musing on this, he invites us to imagine how our own urban edifices could enhance rather than deplete their surroundings. “Cities could function like rainforests”, he suggests. “We could be turning all that CO2 into oxygen.”

Such thinking is central to the exciting new concept of biomimicry. For the uninitiated – me, for example – this means designing more sustainable products and systems for our world by emulating those found in nature. “We need to tap into nature’s genius”, says Rob. “It’s probably our last resort for solving the planet’s problems.”

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