Maasai Mara, Kenya | In accordance with Nature

by Francesco De Giorgio

 Picture of a social moment of Joint Attention, by Francesco De Giorgio, september 2014, Maasai Mara, Kenya.

As a child I traveled a lot with my mind, especially through great landscapes. Books were my guides to unknown scenarios and unknown animals. Africa and its large parks, the origins of myths and inspiration, the interest for the study of ethology, all things born in me during my childhood and my passion to learn about and being cultured by Nature.

The Maasai Mara, great natural area of Kenya, and connected to it the great Serengeti that belongs to Tanzania, was one of the highlights of my daydreams as a child. And now on the threshold of my fifty years of age, the dream turns into reality as I've been able to come back to that child during my recent journey to Africa.

In fact, the past few days I have been immersed in an individual and personalized study safari to the Maasai Mara, with the aim to investigate significant cognitive elements in individual dynamics, intra and inter-social of the inhabitants of this spectacular region. Affiliative dynamics, exploratory behavior, individual characteristics, decisions making, cognitive processing, cognitive assessment of the steps to be taken, socio-cognition and much more, have represented the areas of interest about animal cognition in this first visit of mine to the Maasai Mara.

With my personal guide, Joel Korir, indicated to me by Astrid Clavé as reference guide of Wild Routes of Kenya (www.wild-routes-of-kenya.com), we shared the agreement to do a safari "In accordance with Nature", a new motto that I have suggested for further ethical developments for the Kossitany Safari company (www.kossitanysafaris.co.ke), founded by Joel, and that is not something to taken for granted. A motto that will not remain motto, but consistently translated into ethical actions and choices during safari activities.

As professional teacher, researcher and practical guide regarding 'the animal question', animals minds, animal ethics, human-animal studies and coexistence, this is crucial in my way to look continuously for a new way of understanding and interact with our future with other animals, always and in every moment.

Picture of a moment of social learning between young warthogs, by Francesco De Giorgio, september 2014, Maasai Mara, Kenya.

Observing the affiliative side of a group of lions, the use of tools of a young elephant, the decision making of a family of zebras, the socio-exploration of a band of mongooses, the enrichment of the socio-cognitive map of lion cubs, the social learning of a group of young warthogs, is something very special that gives you a lot of information and new insights to translate also in our interaction and relationship with animals living with us in domestic contexts.

For sure, this safari experience in Maasai Mara will give a lot of new insights that I will share with the students of the study programs of Learning Animals, Institute of Zooanthropology, also thinking to plan some cognitive and ethical safaris in the next years, dedicated to those Learning Animals students having the basic understanding of zooanthropology and the significance of cognitive ethology, and that are interested to go more and more deep in the knowledge of the cognitive dimensions of animals, in accordance with Nature and with all the Learning Animals.

Photo shot by Francesco De Giorgio, during his study in Maasai Mara, september 2014

 a social moment, eternalized in a picture, by Francesco De Giorgio, september 2014, Maasai Mara, Kenya.