12/05/2007

Tigers in Africa

Americans are always in awe when you mention you're from Africa. Generally the response is something like "Woo, you have all those tigers, lions and elephant running all over the place". Before John Varty and Dave Salmoni got involved with tigers, there were actually no wild roaming tigers in Africa. For those of you who missed the Discovery channel's special (Living with Tigers) on John Varty's project to teach zoo born tigers to hunt in the African bush it is well worth a watch. As can be expected there has been a massive amount of back lash and criticism regarding this unusual project.

What I find more amazing than people's misconception about tigers in Africa is the fact that many people assume that wild animals are everywhere in Africa. In South Africa that is definitely not the case and the closest game reserve with any of the big five was at least 3-4 hours from Johannesburg. What astounded me when I got to America was the amount of wild life that can be found in reasonably built up areas. South Africans visitors are constantly blown away when they see a deer running around our garden. Now add onto that squirrel, ground hog, chipmunks, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, fox, bears and the like and SA visitors are blown away! "You guys have more wildlife in your garden than we do for hundreds of miles" - is a typical response.

Don't get me wrong - there is PLENTY of wildlife in the national and private reserves. If you want an AWESOME birding experience head to South Africa. My point is that us Americans should appreciate all of the wildlife that is around us. Yes, I know the squirrels are annoying when they eat all the bird food, but try to appreciate the beauty that nature has to offer. Seeing a wild lion, leopard or cheetah in Africa is unbelievable but count your blessing for what we have in our gardens over here. I am an hour from NYC and I regularly see Red Fox - come on that is amazing!

No comments: