Tanda Tula - wildlife on safari in the Timbavati, South Africa
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When dreams come true

Chad Cocking | Wildlife

Before you get put off by the title of this post, let me point out this is not a soppy story about me dreaming of becoming a game ranger, following my dream and well, becoming a game ranger.  Instead, this a story about a superpower I possess (except for the fact that it’s not really a power, nor is it that super, but still, I occasionally like to believe that I have the ability to see into the future). About once every three years, I get it right.

Just like Superman didn’t realise he had superpowers when he was a young child, neither did I.  I just thought it was normal that I knew when it started getting dark in the evenings (my mom would call me because it was dinnertime). More impressive was that every Thursday, I could foresee that we would be having burgers for dinner the next day.  I tried not to let on that I had these abilities, and kept them well hidden until I became a game ranger (strangely also something I envisaged my whole life, just in case you thought I was making these stories up).

As a game ranger, I realised I had other special powers too – not many people I know can put a whole vehicle full of tourists to sleep whilst bouncing along a bumpy road. I’m so good at this, that I even contemplated offering my services to mothers that can’t get their babies to sleep! It’s during these lulling periods that my real power kicks in; I start daydreaming of finding animals; it’s like a sensational sixth sense comes alive and starts to guide my every move.  I visualise being the leopard, walking down the road, and I go around the next corner, and boom, there it is…another corner…and no leopard.  So then I re-adjust my vision to the next corner…and the next until eventually I readjust it to the next drive, then the next week, and about once in three years, I get it right, and think to myself; “holy cow, I predicted that sighting!”

My nightly dreams seem to be more accurate though, and all jokes aside, this following story really did happen!  We hadn’t seen lions for several days and then one night I dreamt that our three dominant male lions returned to the area following a herd of buffalo, and in my dream, I found them in the process of attacking a big buffalo bull on a large open area called Piva Plains. Seeing as I occasionally dream about things that don’t come true (winning the lottery, finding my lost shoe etc etc), I didn’t bother mentioning my dream at coffee the next morning.  About twenty minutes into the game drive, my colleague back then, Godfrey (who is actually my tracker, Glens, brother) called me to private channel and asked if I wanted to see some lions.  My natural instinct was to say “no thank you, I’m content looking at Mopane trees all morning”, but luckily I can control that side of myself, so instead I said “yeah, which lions?” Godfrey told me that he had the three male lions and suddenly my dream came rushing back to me, and without any prompting, I said to him “so they killed a buffalo on Piva Plains then?” There was a long silence; Godfrey’s standard response anyway. Cautiously, he asked me how on earth I knew what he had found, and exactly where he had found it?  Almost shocked at my own powers of prophecy, I too, was lost for words. Not because I was chuffed that I had “foreseen” something in my dream, but more because I was wracking my brain to remember the last few numbers of the winning lottery ticket that I had bought in the same dream the night before!

Some years later I had learnt my lesson of having prophetic dreams, and after dreaming of finding a leopard with a kill on a particular boundary road, I intentionally told my tracker and guests of what I had dreamt the previous night, and so off we headed to find the leopard.  About 300m before we arrived at the spot where my dream had taken place, my tracker lifted his right hand and pointed towards a large Marula tree and said “ingwe”; and sure enough, there was a leopard with a kill in the very area that I had foreseen it. I naturally ignored the fact that it was a completely different leopard to the one in my dream (yes, they even have identities in my dreams…and personalities too…and yes, I talk in the plural sense as these dreams happened often!), and instantly boasted about how awesome my powers of predictions were. The response wasn’t filled with quite as much awe as I had anticipated. Mostly because the guests couldn’t really remember me saying why we were driving there, and because it was on the border of the neighbouring reserve, my tracker was convinced that I had merely been tipped off about the sighting, and would not believe me no matter how many hearts I crossed or lives I swore on.

Tanda Tula - leopard on the best safari in South Africa

Despite my clearly supernatural abilities regarding dreaming about sightings and then finding them, the most important lesson I have learnt is that when I do share the many dozens of premonitions that I have, most of them never come anywhere close to being true. I must remember that although people will look at me the way that they may look at Superman, it has nothing to do with my super powers, but it is more to do with them giving me the same puzzled looks they would give any man who wears his underwear on the outside of his pants.

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