April 24

5 Important Life Lessons to Learn from Animals


April 24, 2019


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Life is full of unexpected plot twists and exciting cliff-hangers, and in the unprecedented times we find ourselves today, it’s about high-time we learned to stop and smell the fynbos. That’s why we looked at important life lessons we can learn from animals.

Animals live simply. Throw in some food, a fresh-water source, and perhaps a friend or two, and your average wild animal’s bucket list is complete. Take a look at some of our favourite life hacks from some of our favourite animals:

1. Teamwork

wild dogs making a kill
Photo credit: Jamala Madikwe

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Learning how to work with others isn’t just a trait your employers will find critical on your resume. It’s an important life skill that helps us become more empathic, compassionate, and altruistic. It also facilitates good communication and problem-solving skills. The most successful hunters in the animal kingdom are African wild dogs. Why? Teamwork. 

They track their prey in formation, rest when they’re tired, and work together to bring down, and then share, their next meal. Brutal, but effective. Wild dogs are also adept at communication, talking to each other through a series of high-pitched barks throughout the stalking process. Because they work together, rather than apart, they definitely achieve more.

2. Patience 

stalking leopard
Photo credit: Okonjima Nature Reserve

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how you behave while you wait.” – Joyce Meyer

I know, I know. Standing in line can be infuriating. But, let’s be honest, you’re probably made to wait for, what? 15 minutes? Imagine having to wait for hours! A leopard’s ability to be composed during a hunt is impressive. The lead-up to the final ambush can take the entire night!

Leopards stalk with steady precision, slowly pacing with paws down so as to not make any sound. Then, when the time is perfect, they propel fiercely forward and nab their prey.  In a world where we get impatient because logging into our PCs takes a whopping six seconds, we could probably learn to not let it get to us so much.

3. Adaptability

Black desert rhino
Photo credit: Harald Zimmer

“The only constant is change.” – Heraclitus

What’s that old saying? Do or die? I think ‘adapt or die’ is more appropriate. Adaptability is a sign of willingness to learn from situations. Someone who is resourceful and sees failure as an opportunity to grow rather than a defeat. Our environments are constantly changing and in order to be successful, we need to adapt. Mother Nature doesn’t conform to our desires, it’s the other way around, in fact.

Found in the arid reaches of the Namib Desert the desert-adapted black rhino is a perfect example of wildlife changing to fit their environments. They are nocturnal to avoid the excessive heat of the day, their horns are longer than normal to help with foraging, and they only need to drink water every four days – far less than their savannah-bound counterparts. 

4. Live in the now

Meerkats keep a lookout together

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

The human condition forces us to constantly seek out the next goal once we have achieved one and sees us mull over past mistakes as if there’s actually something we can do about it now. Ever woken up in a cold sweat about that time you started responding to a friendly stranger starting up a conversation, only to realise they were on their phone and not talking to you? So embarrassing.

It’s about time we all learnt to slow down and live in the present. If you ever take a look at any animal, especially baby animals, the only thing on their mind is their current lunch or examining that particularly exciting rock. At the end of the day, what happened yesterday has already happened, and what will happen tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. Worrying about either won’t get us anywhere, now will it?

5. Wisdom

Imvelo Safari Lodges

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Ah, wisdom. Often garnered through age and passed down from generation to generation – just like elephants, in fact! These large (and highly-intelligent) animals follow ancient migratory routes to get to freshwater and food sources, routes that sometimes haven’t been travelled in generations! Who knows where to travel to for freshwater and sweet grasses. 

How do they manage this? By listening to the pure wisdom of their elders who know where to shelter from the harsh weather and which direction to travel in for fresh ground. Wisdom lies in learning, knowledge, experience, and going with your gut.

Trust your instincts. And also, stay wild.

We cannot wait to reunite you with Africa! In the meantime,  join us on our Sofa Safari for more entertainment.



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About the author 

Jennifer Southwell

Jennifer is happiest when life is filled with good gin, strong coffee and great adventure. She makes leather bags and rock climbs for fun and relishes in life's little peculiarities. She is passionate about Africa and its animals and has been lucky enough to have been to the most amazing safari destinations such as Moremi, Okavango and Kalahari in Botswana as well as Kafue and South Luangwa in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Give her a gin and tonic in the heart of the bush and she will reach maximum level bliss.

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