Arm chair naturalist

african print (2)
Sometimes we just can’t  physically get there, so this was the next best thing; a virtual expedition!

At first glance one would think that there was no life at the Djuma Game Preserve watering hole. Over eight thousand miles away, however, I was able to look through the lens of a camcorder and peek into the private moments of the South African wilderness. 16:39 Central African Time Zone (CAT), which is Greenwich Mean Time plus two hours had earned me a new title; I had become ‘the armchair naturalist’.

An oblong watering hole flanked by mounds of grey dirt and shrubby trees came into view. There was a slow almost deliberately lazy flow of water, which I sensed was rather shallow. Every now and again a disturbance by some water insect would set the surface in motion with the same rings that are set off by someone skipping a rock across a lake; and from the center outward small ripples ruffled the otherwise tranquil water. The background trees, some sparse of leaves while others like a full head of green hair were mixed together. I found myself being very still, as though my movement would rouse any animal or creature that might choose to make itself present. There was a constant caw of birds and the buzzing of insects; however, they knew when it was their turn to make a sound for not one seemed to interrupt the other. Crickets perhaps, and the coming and going of feathered fowl, some in flight and others taking a leisurely paddle in the grey murky water gave life to what seemed to be an uninhabited spot.

Yet, out of the background, as though the spindly tress had suddenly sprung legs, there was definite movement; not that of a bird, but yet a larger and more deliberate force that one could only assume was a mammal. Several tall and graceful beasts made their appearance, and though they were not easy to see, my knowledge of zoo animals clearly identified them as giraffes. Their colors were hazy and though these creatures came upon the screen ashen and white; apparitions they were not for the outline of slender necks reaching almost as high as the tallest branches gave way to their distinctly original features.

nyala,_maleWithin only a few moments, as if by invitation from the giraffes, a half a dozen shy nyala, appeared. Not taking any risks, they remained half hidden by the scruffy brush as they half-heartedly scurried about, only to be upstaged by a rather bold and curious water fowl that found a sumptuous meal by dining upon the very muddy banks of the shore. Its grey and white feathers blended in with its surrounding, while the only lively color on the shore was verdant green lichen attached to a rock that the water bird found flavorful; for between sips it pecked favorable at the mossy fauna with its long pale yellow beak.

And then, just as quickly as the watering hole had invited life, so did it abruptly become dormant. For suddenly the only conceivable measure of being came from a listless breeze, which carried the hum of insects and the startled cry of birds across the hemispheres while the view from my corner of the world once again became a game of hide and seek.

Here’s the site! Djuma waterhole

 

Esteemed thinker: Dian Fossey

gorialla baby

Popularity is not always an indicator of the best nor should we assume that the most popular were raised to the top on account of an even start. An example of what one may considered “a staked deck” is the phenomena of voting for your favorite singer or dancer via social media (which includes television). Isn’t it likely that the winner may indeed have generated their own pool of supporters who may have “turned the tide”?

So it is here where I take us to the animal kingdom where there are animals that have always been considered ‘the most popular’. The giraffe, the tiger, the lion, the elephant, the gorilla, and of course the ever-adorable panda are just among the few that lead the pack in popularity. Even the dinosaurs, which have never been seen nor heard by anyone, ranks highest in the list of “favorites”. So why is it that the tapir, a most unusual looking fellow, the mountain bongo (a fancy looking antelope), or the red river hog (who makes a pig of himself at night) haven’t been able to tip the scales in their direction of popularity.  Perhaps it just might be that they need to get a new “press agent”!

Dian fossey  Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Dian Fossey, (1932-1985) American primatologist, zoologist, and naturalist was born in San Francisco, California. She is noted for her tireless and heroic struggle to preserve, protect and study the mountain gorilla.

Fossy grew up aspiring to work with animals however, after changing her major in college, she earned a degree in occupational therapy. Working in this field for several years, her restless spirit and affinity for animals drew her to the continent of Africa. In 1963, after taking out a bank loan and spending all her savings, she traveled to Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the Congo. In her travels she meets the renowned archeologists, Mary and Louis Leaky. It is here where Fossey learns of Jane Goodall’s research with chimps, which was at this time in its infancy stages.

Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Virungas Mountains in 1967 with a main goal in mind: to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas. Fossey not only observed and studied, but she lived a secluded life among the mountain gorillas. She brought over thousands of hours of new information to the scientific community.

In 1983 she wrote and published her autobiography Gorillas in the Mist. Fossey’s research and conservation efforts for the endangered gorillas of the Rwandan mountain forest from the 1960s to the ’80s brought her life to a tragically early end when she was murdered presumably by poachers.

I now bring to the profound words of the late Dr. Dian Fossey; a simple lesson for all of humanity.

“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.