Friday, February 15, 2013

In which I annoy hell out of the birdwatchers again

 A couple of years back I put up a post about lions with bad table manners; that, and the others associated, got me more nasty and hate-mail than anything else I've ever written.  Well, the other day I was browsing through Capstick's Maneaters and ran across the section in question.  So I thought I'd stir the pot back up.

The section is about the death of Joy Adamson, and what happened to the story after the initial reports.  What follows is copied from Capstick's book, chapter on lions(pages 32-34 in the hardback):

...My argument with the attitude of people such as the late Mrs. Adamson lies in the unrealistic sentimentalism which has lead tens of thousands of otherwise unexposed people to believe that lions, if not all the great carnivora are, in reality, poor tabbies starved for the godlike gift of human affection.  Would it were so, yet I cannot but believe that, indirectly of course, every kid who has his face torn off by an irate black bear in some American park or each damnfool who has seen BORN FREE and is mauled by a lion who doesn't purr on cue or appreciate the human concept of affection is at least to some degree the fault of Mrs Adamson or Mr. Disney.

I first heard of the death of Joy Adamson from the wire serviced through the Miami Herald of January 5, 1980, which, in part, reported the following:
                          Author of 'Born Free killed by Kenya lion
                                    From herald Wire Services

Nairobi, Kenya- Joy Adamson, whose Born free awakened millions to her beliefs that "once wildlife is gone, it is gone forever," was mauled to death by a lion, it was reported Friday.
Friends said that Mrs. Adamson, 69, had taken her customary evening stroll Thursday night in the bush outside her tent camp in a remote area of northeast Kenya, and came across a lion chasing a buffalo.
The lion turned and killed her.
She was found by a park employee, lying face down ithe heavy wounds on her hands, arms and head.
"The lion is still at large, but we have tracker teams out looking for it," a police spokesman said.
Her body was found about 1,000 yards from the barbed-wire enclosed compound where she had been conducting experiments in returning tame leopards to the wild.
In 1956 she adopted Elsa, the wild-born heroine of Born Free whose mother had been killed in self-defense by Mrs. Adamson's husband.
Believing, as George Adamson once said, that "the mentality that condines wild animals in lifelong captivity is little removed from the mentality that condoned the slave trade," the two conservationists raised the cub on love and affection while also training her to hunt.
Now, that seemed pretty pat to me. No question at any time of any kind of human foul play, although I commented to several people at the time that it was going to be most embarrassing to the "Else Wild Annimal Appeal" for the world's most famous lion lover to have up and gotten The Big Chop from one of her own sweeties.  And, what of the dozens of other heavy fund-raising organizations who generated millions of cool, green dollars for the sake of all those lovely, soft-eyed endangered cutie-pies?  What would good old Cleveland Amory have to say about such a  turn of events?  Clearly, the death of Joy Adamson at the hands- excuse me, paws- of a lion would not help anybody's fund-raising let alone their projection of the African lion as lying characteristically with lambs on a bed of jonquils.

My, my!  Guess what happened?  Seems that all those tracker teams spooring up the lion that killed Mrs. Adamson must have been mistaken.  Apparently, the mention of a buffalo was all wrong, too!  From an apparently confirmed story of death by lion, the "official" verdict was now that Mrs. Adamson had been murdered by a human since some of her belongings were missing.

You may have noticed that you never heard much more- if anything- about the matter.  That, in itself, is as weird to me as the abrupt change of cause of death.  I wasn't there and accuse nobody of knuckling under to any big money preservationist sentiment-venders simply because it would have raise a few donor eyebrows for the author of BORN FREE, FOREVER FREE, LIVING FREE and the rest of the stuff to have been killed by a lion.  heavens no!  I guess the murder of a famous authoress in the midst of the African bush just wasn't interesting enough for the press to pursue.  Don't you think?

I wound up being called about every kind of animal-hater, liar, murderer of cuteness and whatever else you can think of over that original post.  Including "You American gun nuts just want excuses to kill everything in sight!", etc.

Which all reminded me of something else, and I was able to find it.  Remember Treadwell, the idiot who thought "The Grizzly is My Friend"?  Account by the people involved who found the remains, and met the bears.  From the pilot who first found the scene:
...Pausing to untie, Fulton glances over his shoulder. And behind him is a bear, coming fast and low, eerily silent, 20 feet away. As the pilot leaps to his floats and pushes off, the bear is a body length behind. Fulton scrambles into the cockpit and slams the door. The bear, a big, dark male, skids to a stop at the water's edge, eyes still fixed on him. Huffing, the bear paces the bank as the plane drifts out into the lake. Normally Fulton would have a shotgun in his plane, as per state regulations, but he's left it back in Kodiak.

"I've been charged by a few bears, but this was different," Fulton says. "He wasn't doing that usual bear-of-the-woods thing, acting big and bad. He was crouched down, sneaking on me. That look in his eye was real different too. Right then I felt like he was out to kill me and eat me." Fulton's heart is thumping. Now he knows something isn't right. The Beaver's engine rattles to life, and the bear fades into the alders

You can believe all you want to that all the animals are just friends you haven't been introduced to yet, that they will never harm you if you have love in your heart; if you annoy the wrong one, or at the wrong time, you'll get recycled.


Jennifer said...

I'm a big fan of all creatures cute and cuddly, but you can't forget that we are still made of meat. If you don't want to be on the menu, don't tease the meat eaters.

The Freeholder said...

Humans often mistake themselves for the top of the food chain. Without our tools, we're just easy pickings.

Marja said...

The big problem I have with the situation in my country now: big predators were hunted pretty freely up to about fifty years ago, and when I was young they were very rare. I did spend lots of time in the forests during the 80's and I saw bear tracks once, wolf tracks never. Not much of a risk running into one then. But now they are coming back.

At the same time our gun laws have been tightened into ridiculous. Hunters can have a loaded weapon with them, during the hunting season, but pretty much nobody else can carry.

I'd be reasonably happy to have bears living next door to me IF I could take something which can take one down with me when I go for a walk. But since I can't I don't like this situation all that much. Never mind how rare bear attacks, or wolves attacking humans, are supposed to be, I'd still much prefer to have something with me, the same way I really do prefer to drive with my seat belt on.

And since those animals now very rarely meet armed humans going after them here - they are hunted, but in a very small scale - they are also becoming pretty bold. A wolf was seen only a few weeks ago in the forest nearby where I do often go, and I live practically in town.

I do feel sorry for those families with small children who live in the rural areas. Lots of them are getting scared.

Keith said...

At the risk of extreme redundancy, habituation is a bad idea with many critters.

I think all of the Adamson's lions ended up needing a short course of hot lead treatment.

Both my grandmother and my father had near escapes with cattle which were hand raised, in my father's case, there were half a dozen bones broken in a couple of seconds.

Jane Goodall habituated her study chimps in Tanzania. Prior to her, they kept a respectful distance from humans - at least one of her habituated males took to swinging her around over his head, and those chimps now steal human infants from the local village -to eat.

With the net and social media, the bigfoot research community has extended, and there are increasing attempts to habituate whatever is glimpsed, heard and causing the other effects attributed to "big foot"

I'm keen to know what they are, but somehow, I don't think habituating a 700lb+ 8'+ tall omnivorous primate/homminin is good idea.

Some of the Indian myths speak of them as cannibals, chimp and some human cultures are cannibalistic

and all primates are smarter than wolves bears and big cats

wv is
"411 oursewer"
The recent book "missing 411" raises the posibility (including an eye witness account) of bigfoot abducting human infants.

Gerry N. said...

Remember the teevee show "Gentle Ban"? I do, the ijits who wrote, produced and acted in it should have been forced to interact with actual wild animals beforehand. I could go on about it for hours, but suffice it to say "Gentle Ben Syndrome" has caused injury and death and in a just world everyone who made as much as one dollar from that show should be held financially and criminally responsible. Ain't gonna happen of course, but it should.