Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Wilderness Family

I am a slow reader and read 1, maybe 2 books at a time, though I greedily pick out several books simultaneously. Lately, I have been fortunate to read a number of fabulous books, one after the other.

Kobie Kruger's The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildlife is another one of these. If you have an ounce of adventure in you or if you have ever been stirred by nature in it's unadulterated form, this book will definitely bring on the goosebumps.

Kobie Kruger, the wife of a game warden, narrates her family's thrilling, oftentimes harrowing experiences as they spend 17 years at South Africa's Kruger National Park. Kobie, her husband Kobus, and their 3 children are so overwhelmed by the beauty of Mahlangeni ranger station and the beasts and birds that occupy it, that they take danger and hardship in stride.

The author states very simply: If your vehicle broke down en route (the remote private road linking the nearest town to the Mahlengeni ranger station), you had 2 choices: fix it yourself or walk the rest of the way. Makes me squirm to think of how much we take for granted. When my car stalls on the highway, I usually feel acutely bored, and growl impatiently at the tardiness of AAA, all this in the warm comfort of my car.
I enjoyed the story of Buksie, the affectionate honey badger cub the family fosters; who refuses to go to sleep unless he has a human finger to suck on (how adorable is that?) The family also fosters a lion cub, Leo, a banded mongoose, Mufi, 2 black piglets, Fritzie and Fiela (that were intended for dinner, but the family adopted them instead!), apart from the dogs, horses, bantams and occasional Egyptian geese that live in their garden.

What touched me most is her portrayal of 'Children of the wild', the delightful, sunny-natured young ones who grow up with a deep love of the wilderness and of all it's creatures. It is enlightening to learn that these children do not consider close encounters with wild animals as frightening experiences. Animals have no malice, they attack only in self-defense, they hunt only when they must eat. It is man, the most successful predator on earth, who is the most dangerous of all creatures.

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