who are not in the least cute.
The other day had the chance to watch a show on Animal Planet about lions, specifically maneaters in Kruger National Park. It seems that a lot of people are crossing the border, and crossing the park, getting to South Africa. And some of the lions in the park have started treating them as a traveling buffet. This guy wanted to walk around and see how close he could get, and how they would react. Unlike a lot of the ‘Nature is our friend’ people, he fully recognized just how dangerous the cats are, and just how dangerous this was. Really, not a bad show. I’d just argue with one thing.
He kept mentioning lions having a natural fear of man, and wondering what overcame that for the maneaters. Going from what I’ve read, I don’t think they have a 'natural fear'; I think it was earned, through lions facing armed humans over a long period of time. And protected in the park, I think they lost what fear or respect they did have. Add to that humans being so much easier to catch and kill than buffalo or antelope, and you get an increase in bad table manners.
I remember reading about a study done years ago that showed that while most tigers that go maneater tend to be old or injured(or both), most lions tended to be in good health, just like leopards. However it begins, once one discovers the ease of chomping humans as opposed to fighting with a Cape buffalo, they simply continue. There actually are cases of prides where the cubs are fed on human kills, and continue the family dining tradition. In Maneaters, Peter Capstick writes of the pride that, due to a combination of WWII and politics, wound up having virtual free running over the Njombe district of Tanganyika(now Tanzania) for years; no exact number of how many kills due to lack of communications, the wide area, some people being scared to speak of it, and the fact that someone disappearing, in some cases, leaves no evidence; but the number Capstick quotes is 'better than two thousand'. And considering all the ways to die and disappear there… Hyenas and leopards and crocs and lions will kill and eat you; elephant and rhino and hippo and buffalo will stomp you into mulch and the aforementioned- along with the jackels and bugs and birds- will clean up what’s left. Kind of like some shark attacks: someone goes fishing or swimming and disappears, you may never know just what happened to them.
Yeah, that sounds like a lot. But, among other things, they believe this started in 1932 and it ended in 1947. Think about that: fifteen years. Considering how much a pride of lions eats, and that people are a lot smaller than zebra or buff, God knows what the actual total was.
On a much smaller(and happily less lethal) scale we've got some of the same problem in our western states with mountain lions. Many areas they’ve been completely protected from hunting, and as a consequence they no longer treat us as anything but some odd-looking animals with fancy dens. Who, on occasion, are used for munchies.
Just some thoughts on the kitty trouble and the show.