Born in Windhoek, Namibia in 1990, Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre lived with her French parents, wildlife photographers Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre. The three of them travelled extensively through Africa on a unique and incredible adventure.
From sitting at the back of an ostrich, lying with a leopard or sitting on the trunk of an elephant, Tippi paints a picture of the famous character, Mowgli, from “The Jungle Book”.
“It was magical to be able to be free in this nature with this child,” explains Sylvie, Tippi’s mother. “She was a very lucky little girl – she was born and raised until the age of ten totally in the wild. It was just the three of us living in the wild with the animals and not too many humans.”
Living with her French parents, wildlife photographers Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre, the three of them travelled extensively through Africa on a unique and incredible adventure.Raised up with an elephant as a brother, leopard as the best friend and African bush as her playground, Tippi shows an unusual bond and harmony between human and beast.
“Tippi always said that everybody was gifted and this was her gift,” explains Sylvie. “She was in the mindset of these animals. She believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions. She had no fear. She did not realize she was not the same size as Abu the elephant. She would look into its eyes and speak to him”
When she was 18 and having just started a degree in cinema at University in Paris, Tippi is facing a different jungle – the concrete kind.
But for Sylvie, her decision to bring up her child in the African wilderness was the correct choice – and she has no regrets. “For me it was incredible to think you offer all of this to a child,” she says. “Because I was at ease, because I liked it and because we had lived with the Meerkats in the Kalahari Desert for six years before Tippi was born, I believed it was fantastic to have that to offer to a child compared to what I would be able to offer to a child living in a city for example.
Sylvie added: “Tippi believes she is African and she wants to get a Namibian passport. She wants to become an ambassador for Namibia. It is like Mowgli’s story, but Tippi’s is true.”
And, of course, the natives Kalahari became best friends for a little French.