Introducing our wild neighbours

They live in the shadows, moving quietly between their hidden sanctuaries and the last vestiges of open space left on the Peninsula. Many are nocturnal, emerging after dusk to follow well-worn paths in search of food. They are quick, vigilant, and able to forage within a wild larder that is notoriously nutrient-deficient, being part of the Cape Floral Kingdom which favours plants over vertebrates.

They are our wild neighbours, creatures great and small, hardy and resilient, who still call the fairest Cape, home.

Adaptable, resourceful, the small mammals of the Peninsula somehow manage to live alongside the ever-expanding suburbs, contending with ever-increasing threats, living deeper in the shadows with each year.

My admiration for these animals knows no bounds, I have been drawn to their secretive lives since my childhood in rural Hout Bay, and I speak out for them at every opportunity.

My work through Wild Neighbours is guided by Jane Goodall’s words “The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves”, and I hope that these words and the images that I continually share, inspire people to see nature anew, to realise the extraordinary privilege of our interconnection, and to work with all our combined efforts to hold onto all that is wild and free in our beautiful world.

A life without the call of a robin, the arrival of the swallows at the onset of spring, the bark of a baboon deep in the mountains, or the sound of foxes on a still night, will echo with a loneliness that is too profound to even begin to imagine.

Now is our time to make changes, to speak out, to act on their behalf.

I truly do not enjoy sharing distressing messages, but having observed the decline in local populations of birds and small creatures, I feel compelled to speak more fervently on their behalf. In this twilight time, I urge us all to do all that we can to preserve the delicate magic of life, in this moment, whilst we still can.

Belinda Ashton 2019