THE WARDEN THINKS ABOUT . . . . . . PART 8
The balance of nature was something that the Warden often pondered about and also spent time on, very often by trial and error.
He wrote that upsetting the balance of Nature usually leads to enexpected and sometimes unfortunate results. The deliberate elimination of parctically all the carniverous animals from the ZULULAND Game Reserves resulted, within a few years, in the numerical increase of the "big Game " to such a degree that the reserves could no longer support their needs and the animals spread out far and wide into the surrounding country. This would again then sooner or later result in a serious campaign agains them, entirely apart from the Tsetse fly menace, which was causing great problems in the area mentioned, which merely brought the matter to a head earlier than might otherwise have been the case, and condensed the period of destruction into a shorter time.
In a certain district in the SABI GAME RESERVE, a season's intensive trapping of smaller carnivora - Genets, Mongooses, Civets, Wild Cats and Jackals - resulted in such a plague of bush rodents that the local natives lost most of their grain crop.
The senseless killing of insectiverous and raptorial birds on the part of ignorant farmers, the world over, must in the aggregate, have resulted in immense financial loss.
In the remote areas of Mozambique the local natives had succeeded in completely eliminating the larger types of indigenous game, by snaring or otherwise. The Lions remained unmolested and were driven by hunger to become man-eaters. They for many years such a reign of terror that the natives scarcely ever dared venturing into their fields and were even siezed while sleeping in their huts - this was also experienced in many other parts of AFRICA.
During the Rinderpest in the then Southern Rhodesia in 1896, large herds of cattle and game died of the disease and the carcasses were strewn in the veld. The Lion population experienced ans as with all, multiplied in numbers. Then . . . . . . the temporary food source came to an end, when game and cattle became relatively scarce, now the Lion numbers were in excess - the result - starvation, which for a short period became a threat, similiarly to that mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Another instance mentioned by Stevenson-Hamilton was about an event in AMERICA. Farmers turned a favourite area of geese habitat into sheep farming land, the foxes who normally prey on geese now partly turned their feeding to lambs the easier prey. The farmers now started eliminating the foxes. Now with no or very little threat of predation the geese started to multiply - resulting in the geese destroying the grass required by the sheep, resulting in many more lambs dying than had previously fallen prey by the foxes.
A second instance a small lake was well populated with snapping turtles and also favoured by numbers of wild ducks. The banks were the haunts of small fur-bearing mammals which kept the numbers of the snapping tutles under control by eating their eggs. Fur became a part of fashion, and became a source of income, the furry mammals were trapped to the verge of extermination. Freed from their enemies, the turtles now multiplied in numbers, eventually outgrowing their food supply, the turtles now turned to ducklings as an acquired taste. The result: the ducks left the lake and the turtles died off from starvation. WILDLIFE was successfully evicted.
He further wrote that the ideal wildlife sanctuary should aim to be fully and accurately representative of the particular area, as it had been before Man had progressed sufficiently to disturb its ordered and orderly arrangement. All indigenous species of FAUNA and FLORA ought to be represented, the introduction of exotic species must at all costs be resisted.
If not, an air of artificiality will appear and dominate the land. Only by keeping the place perfectly natural, may the student acquire true knowledge and the ordinary visitor real education in natural history, some links in the chain of their life economy will be missed and the relative value of observation to that extent be marred . . . . . . Only in carefully guarded sanctuaries, it will be possible to study wild creatures fully . . . . .
Elsewhere, on man's presence being detected, all the little intimacies of animal life stop dead, His tyrranny is to himself so much a matter of course, that especially if he is of the great majority who live their lives divorced from wild nature, he views the frenzy of horror and terror which the wild creatures display at his approach, as being the natural habit of life.
It is hard to believe that the folllowing scene is all part of nature's process of eating and being eaten : From a place of concealment you are looking over an AFRICAN river scene, Tree clad banks and green reeds fringe the water, which reflects the pure blue and snowy white of the sky as well as the birds crossing by. Hippos splash and grunt; Crocodiles float lazily about among unheeding fishes; Otters play and protrude their heads, turn over in the water like seals, or lie lazily on a rock preening themselves; a pair of Egyptian Geese are teaching their brood the joys of life from a sandbank; Kingfishers, call, flutter and dive; Pheasants strut about scratching and sand bathing, calling raucously to one another, a Bateleur sails overhead, first dipping one wing and then another . . . a pair of Fish Eagles perched on a bough and at intervals give their call of AFRICA; a long line of Impala make it slowly and stealthily towards the water; and up above on the thick branch of a great thick fig tree . . . a Leopard lazily sharing all of this . . . . . .with you.
It is hard to realise that within an instant all of this will change , the moment man becomes visible. The Hippos and Crocodiles dive, The Otters disappear into their burrow, The birds fly away, The Impala snort and rush off, The Leopard vanishes, i. . . . in a moment, all has changed . . . . . .
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
Convenor of the AIKONA Group.
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
Done 142 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.