Myths and Bad Reputations in South Africa and Around the World

Myths and Bad Reputations in South Africa and Around the World

Does this hyena pup know its reputation? Does it have any idea how it is depicted in Disney films? This innocent little fellow my husband and I saw on a 12-day bush trip in Africa has not a notion of how he’s been presented to the world and how that might affect his future. He does not even own the spots, yet that will identify him his whole life as the spotted hyena or the laughing hyena. Would he wish to rid himself of them if he knew? Human babies have this dilemma as well. A dark-skinned human baby has no idea that his skin color will affect his whole journey in life. Perhaps on this basis alone, he will be viewed as a predator, seeking to injure or kill other humans for his assumed savagery, his own selfish gain or to merely challenge the color “white.”...

Elephants Both In And Out Of The Room

Elephants Both In And Out Of The Room

If I had it to do all over again, I would devote myself to the study of the elephant. Sadly, there is only so much one can cram into the too few years of a lifetime, and so I consider myself lucky to have been able to spend some time with them. Elephants are impressive creatures with a fascinating culture. Last year when my husband I spent 12 days in the bush on a trip to Africa, I noticed that no matter how many animals we were seeing, the elephants never lost their allure. Always led by a matriarch, the herd does not tolerate incest. If a bull gets out of hand and tries to mate within the family, he is ousted and becomes a rogue, but the females never leave their herd. They are devoted to one another and have been known to return to the site of the death of a...

Mad Dogs and Englishmen… or Wild Dogs and Americans

Mad Dogs and Englishmen… or Wild Dogs and Americans

Reflections on Them vs. Us As some of my readers might have noticed, I am extremely fond of animals, animal images and animal metaphors. Some say that animals differ from humans in that they don’t possess souls. I challenge anyone to live with critters for a bit and to uphold that theory. All the animals who’ve chosen to live with me (and it has been their choice) most definitely have souls, deeper souls than many of the Homo sapiens I’ve known. Last fall, my husband and I took a trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. One of the highlights was an up-close sighting of a pack of wild dogs. You can see just how close we were to them by the outline of the vehicle in the photo. These are a seriously endangered species. Our tracker had only seen them twice in ten years....

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