Peter Meyer is the author of the number one bestselling book ‘The Boy from the Wild’. He is an author, actor, filmmaker, business owner and ex-hotelier. Peter grew up in South Africa in the wild on a game reserve safari his father started. He spent his childhood growing up with wild animals and loving every minute of nature. Peter’s career was mainly spent opening and managing hotels around the world before getting into acting & commercials and owning his own photography studio business in London.
Quest Magazine: Peter, your documentary is fascinating and it was so interesting to learn about your childhood. Could you tell us about where you grew up and what your childhood was like?
Peter Meyer: I was very blessed and lucky to have a father who wanted to start such a unique game reserve and create something very powerful for conservation in such a stunning location. He bought the land the same year I was born and literally my first footprints were there. The Land is stunning with huge sloping valleys with huge waterfalls, lush terrain, rivers and even a small tropical forest.
My father brought animals out of captivity from around the world and back into the world giving them a home and future to prosper and for them to create families of their own. The valley also acted as a natural barrier to keep animals in. I would live amongst all the action, the animals, the adventures travelling out and exploring and seeing whatever dangers or trouble were out there by brother and I could get into. It was paradise and a dream I didn’t know was a dream at the time. I would be with the animals daily and loved that the most being close to them and even swimming with elephants at times in the river. I was so lucky and privileged.
QM: What kind of character qualities and skills were instilled into you as a result of your childhood and experiences with living in the wild?
PM: Respect is for sure one of the strongest lessons, not only for nature but wildlife too and family. When you live in a place of beauty it can be very dangerous too and you have to learn fast to respect all of the surroundings. You need to remember my father created the place but with wildlife it was more their home and will be protective of themselves, their young, they will be territorial and will defend their home. There is a lot you need to mindful of and respect the biggest creatures to even the smallest that can be just as deadly. Patience is a strong lesson you gain.
Understanding of something greater than yourself and not only due to the wildlife but something my Father and Mother who instilled those great lessons. Love is a massive lesson, love of family, love of freedom, love of wildlife and knowing what home was to not just us but animals too. I learnt conservation from experience, not a classroom. I learnt to give thanks to my parents and be mindful of the objective. But something very key was to also keep as much distance to the wildlife as possible and not only because of danger but to be respectful of the fact they are wild and keep them that way.
QM: Your parents blessed you with an amazing childhood. How important is it for children to grow up with knowledge and respect for wildlife?
PM: So important. I had incredible parents and at the same time parents who came from very different angles at times. I was given freedom and the opportunity to learn from experience, to learn young was pivotal to survival. The same happens with wild animals where they are taught young. I was taught generosity by also simply being in an environment that was about giving, giving to something greater. The lessons I got from experience are so different to TV or a classroom, as I lived it and experience counts for everything. It allowed me to share the knowledge also and that is a key responsibility when you have had such a great life with the best teachers. My parents were the key foundation to who I am and have become. The environment shapes you but again my parents placed me there and protected me and taught me just like wild animals do for their young.
QM: What made you decide to write your book and make your film?
PM: When I sadly lost my father I wanted to pay tribute to him and share what he did and his/our story. It was Liam Neeson who encouraged me when we were on the film set of “The Commuter” together. It spurred me on to do it. I loved my father and felt this would keep his legacy eternal and a part of him still alive in my life. The Film came after where I wanted to get a visual trailer for the place and share with others what he created. It evolved further and we ended up making it into a short documentary. I did it purely for love and was happy and so grateful to see the positive responses behind it.
QM: Sadly, animals are still getting poached and others are losing their natural habitats. I know that so many people (myself included) would love to get involved and want to be able to do more but are unsure where to start and what to do. What advice would you give? How can people get involved and help save our wildlife?
PM: It’s lovely that people donate and support but truth is simply spreading the word can make such a difference and almost more of a difference. Join a conservation group, go on a safari, watch more Nat Geo, travel to a sanctuary on an internship, film the experience etc.
The key is education and the more people can learn and understand the more we can share the knowledge and pass it on. The more that talk, the more that listen. But the pivotal lesson is get kids involved, as they are the key and the ones to make the biggest impact and change the future. Even in schools we need to change our classes to focus on “Current Affairs” which could be conservation, environmental changes, gender equality, racism etc. Children will be the key, something my father mentioned very young to me also.
QM: Finally, when and where can people watch your film and what message would you like people to take away from watching it?
PM: The film should soon be on Apple TV and the book is on Amazon. I hope the message shares with people the link we have to Wildlife and how similar we are and why we can be better as people for it. We were once wild too and we all have a responsibility to protect and preserve the wild, don’t forget that. I hope people see the bond to family or someone close in their life who has helped them and not be afraid to say thank you. Never leave it for some to die to share how wonderful they “were”, share it before so they know how wonderful they “are” and let them go to that next place knowing. I hope the film is positive for the viewers and maybe a little different to what they normally see.
Follow Peter Meyer on Instagram
Read his book: The Boy from the Wild