A couple of months back Russ and I visited the Dallas zoo. I was impressed by the new Savannah section. The buildings and enclosures definitely have an African feel. The giraffe, elephants and even the lions look well cared for with shiny coats. However, sadly, due to no fault of the young keepers the animals are bored.
The elephant sway from side to side. The giraffe try and reach the last of the grass left on the high wall and the kudo (large antelope) just lay around.
Having just returned from our South African Wildlife Conservation Tour the contrast was blatant. In the Kruger Park we’d had an elephant charge our little rental car with ears flapping and Russ reversing fast. We’d observed the adrenaline explode in three kudu as they finally saw the leopard in the tree. Then of course there was the injured wild lioness that almost scared me to death with her unexpected furious attack.
Then Russ shared this from the book* his reading about one of our favorite people, Karin:
“Only 150 years ago, these mountains (Magaliesberg, Cape Province, South Africa) and the vast plains below them teemed with wild animals. Herds of elephants, as far as the eye could see, elegant giraffe, rhino and numerous prides of tawny lions lived in this wild and fertile environment.
Hippopotami and crocodiles basked on the banks of the Magaliesberg’s rivers and many other smaller species scurried in the thick undergrowth of the valley floor.”
Then a sad thing happened, not much different than it did in the USA…
“The incredible wealth of wildlife in the Magaliesberg brought in a string of foreign explorers, traders, hunters and missionaries, many of who treated the area as their personal killing fields”
Today children may see some of Africa’s beauties in the zoo, but even I who grew up in South Africa in the 50’s and 60’s never saw the real wild splendor. Let’s protect what we still can while we still can.
* ‘Life with Darwin’ by Fransje Van Riel