acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July chat

There has been blogger interuptus for far too long, and its high time for a chat. Its not that the monkeys have been silent around here - or even absent. Quite the opposite in fact. Yesterday the big male monkey ( with the splendid blue dangly bits that proclaim his status) sneaked into the kitchen around lunch time and tried to cram the rest of the roast chicken into this mouth.  The sound of glass smashing as the pyrex bowl took a hit, brought us running into the kitchen.  The chicken fell to the ground and the monkey fled to the lounge to bounce off the walls a bit before making it to the door - not before his backside was peppered with a bit of snakeshot though. Just enough to give him a clear message. 

The monkeys have been very invasive lately, and we need to reassert our territorial rights to the kitchen. They have learnt to stay calm when in the house, and if we approach, just to hide under a table, or under a bed, or in the ceiling, while we pass by - resuming the raiding tactic behind our backs. There has been hide and seek in process. But its those tell tale calling cards that always give the game away. 

Winter is here with its delicious coolness and wide blue skies. The grasses are yellow and whispy and the warthogs are all around the house. We are in safari season which means travelling long distances on rickety roads, billowing dust, bright sunlight, and sparkling waters. It means elephants, and lions, and all the myriad creatures; dark velvet night skies and the whiff of wild sage brush.

well now here is a strange and mystifying thing.  We keep finding baby frogs in the toilet cistern. How do they get there? the inlet pipe is tiny.  Perhaps they come in as eggs and grow there, but what do they feed on. How are they alive in there, in that chamber of sensory deprivation?

Yesterday we fished one out again. He was small and brown and shiny, with a mottled pattern.  He sat quietly in the hand, and 'walked' rather than hopped.  He seemed slow, then we realised that all he had known before was the dark interior of the cistern.  Suddenly he was riding a human hand into a brightly lit and brightly painted kitchen filled with strange smells, and stranger giants.

We took him out to the waterhole, and rather reluctantly he fell off the hand and into the water.  He bobbed at the edge of the pool, watching us. Funny, it was as if he said 'take me back inside!'  but we must have been imagining it. Later we found an identical frog in the same bathroom, inside the bucket.  It was a bit confusing - surely it couldnt be the same one?? but we took him out to the waterhole even so.

Twenty years ago, when speaking to a prominent kenyan naturalist, he said that trying to keep rhino's alive on this continent was like 'trying to keep ice cubes in the lake'. We were saddened by his defeatist attitude but was he defeatist or realist? It can seem that if you are in any way involved in trying to protect and conserve our planets precious natural resources you are destined for days of heartache and hopelessness .

In the intervening years so many dedicated people have focussed their life's efforts on trying to preserve rhinos and other endangered species. And there are wonderful success stories that we rarely hear about, or give any major credence to. Valiant rangers have given their lives to poachers bullets in the field, in remote and little known wildlife areas.

Responsible fundraising efforts go to equipping these rangers with hi-tech communications and basic uniforms and even salaries. They are on the front line of a nasty war, that is getting nastier.  The illegal trade in wildlife products (rhino horn, ivory, tiger bone etc) is today included in the same cartels as drug trade and human trafficking.

The more attention, funds and manpower we throw at stopping these heinous crimes, the more they seem to flourish. Tigers are still critically endangered; rhinos are on the brink of extinction AGAIN; elephants are being slaughtered in their thousands. We know where the market is for all these products, and yet we cannot seem to address it directly.  We have increased security at seaports and airports, and yet still, massive shipments are uncovered, suggesting an unknown quantity that slips through undetected to supply an ever growing demand.

They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Perhaps in these days of regime change, climate change and enhanced global communication networks; there will be a respite for Africa's beleaguered creatures - great and small.  We need to think outside the box - and fast.


Diane said...

Glad that you are back on the blog again. I have just read a book called Poacher based in Kruger, the elephants and rhinos have a tough time! So very sad and all for money, if only people would not buy the precious bits and pieces.

Love the story of the frog and tell those monkeys the house is yours not theirs!! Have a good week Diane

Val said...

Diane - thanks for still being there! oh i must look for that book then. who was the author? its so sad whats happening to elephants and rhinos particularly, but its also lions, and all the smaller stuff. Those frogs are pretty - but a mystery. and the monkeys... they were here today but no break ins to report! you have a good week too.

mermaid gallery said...

I know the monkeys must be annoying but the fun of it would make up for their mischief! Frogs seem to love dark, squishy places...just more characters for the party...but the horror of is hard to believe that man can still be so ignorant....

joost said...

Great story again Val,

love to read about your everyday life were monkeys and frogs as true actors play their roles. Our two and four legged friends who live around us here are the first ones to make us smile everyday.. the longer you live with them the more they show you their characters.

Very good that you pay attention to the many individuals who are committed to protecting the defenseless animals that are often the last of their kind.
Most of them probably never be honored or will play a key role in a beautifully written article in a nice glossy magazine. For these heroes slander, threat or a bullet is closer than great fame.
You're one of those heroes who repeatedly confronts us with the true facts and so let us become the next ambassadors for these beautiful animals. The animals, were you Val, live around and who every day reveal more of there soul to you. Please never stop sending out your stories (I know you never will )

Wish you guys a surprisingly beautiful safari season!


Val said...

Mermaid Gallery - yes indeed - they are fun to have around and we miss them when they are away foraging elsewhere - but it can get a little hectic in domestic circles sometimes!

Joost - thank you for your kind words and support! i do feel we are bombarded with disaster stories and there are some positives, and at least good and dedicated people out there who we never hear about; and they are taking enormous risks daily to try to protect and conserve a wildlife heritage that belongs to the world. We need ambassadors for those who cant speak for themselves. I think you are a great one X

Amanda Summer said...

it is truly disheartening to hear that naturalist's statement. after all the efforts people are putting into trying to stop poaching it still goes on due to some people's insatiable desire. so many things going on in our world that make you shake your head and wonder why - but the darkest hour is before the dawn. i don't believe the earth and its creatures will put up with abuse forever.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Fascinating reading your account here. I live in Texas, USA and here their are many animals imported and bred for hunting purposes. Many argue they are helping to preserve the species. And then there are those who pay the big dollars to hunt their lands. I can't quite grasp their logic.

Thoroughly enjoyed visiting you.

Angela said...

As everybody says, your voice is so important, Val, and I do hope heard by many. I wish you could rent a satellite and broadcast your messages to the places where the BUYERS live (got to learn Chinese first?). I CANNOT understand why these horns and tusks are considered good for human male erections!! Why does nobody ever TELL these buyers they are the weirdest stupidest men on earth?? Do I sound agitated? I AM!!

But I love your little animal stories, Val. that frog, haha, he probably came back home after a long "walk" (no hopping) and now must do it all again.
Today in our supermarket there was a little swallow circling and circling inside. I said, open the windows, but they told me they are not to be opened! So I got myself a big waste paper basket and rolled it to the side of the exit door, keeping it open. One woman said, But Lady, you are not SUPPOSED to that! Haha, I said, so what?! I want that swallow to fly out!
Why are people so arrrgh, I wonder?

Val said...

Amanda - yes we ahve to stay positive and this is a time of great changes; the horror everyone feels at the loss of wild creatures and their habitat will surely spawn a deeper concern and hopefully ensure their survival is this well peopled planet x

Val said...

Midlife Job Hunter - the pro hunting lobby has some arguments they use, but you have to wonder how you are preserving something by killing it. and do they still have a right to take the biggest and best of every species out of the dna chain - and so nobody else can have the joy of observing it alive and well? thanks for visiting!

Val said...

Angela - the big problem is that China refuses to officially acknowledge its major role in the decimation of africa's extraordinary wild creatures and biodiversity. There will be RIVERS of tears if its all gone one day and what then? in the meantime a few are making a fast buck here.

Very sadly the market has gone beyond the aphrodisiac and spread to other 'traditional' cures for big things like cancer and aids; and also as prestigeous ornaments for the new rich.

but i agree - if we could bombard the youth of china with the information that rhinos and elephants DIE when you hack their faces off - perhaps they could put pressure on their elders. They are the future afterall.

I am so glad you helped that swallow! hopefully you gave those shop people food for thought! did you see the swallow fly out? you are my hero for this (and everything else) x

Lauri said...

I know I'm meant to feel all sad for the rhinos, but I can't help it- I feel sad for the poor frog. Shames! So lost in the light and space. :(

Val said...

Lauri - hi and yes - the frog! that is still a mystery! can you imagine the sensory overload? no wonder his eyes were bulging a bit :)

Lori ann said...

i guess doing what can be done, a bit at a time, spreading the word, using our money as our vote, it hopefully counts for something. i'm reading tony parks book 'safari' right now val, he writes about poaching in a way i've not read before. it's personal. i love that he's getting the word out.

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