Today in My History2001: Tappity Tap Tap Tap
2002: The Pre-Breakfast Club
2003: Too Beautiful a Day
2004: The Windy City
2005: The Gay Lifestyle
2006: A Ralph Bellamy Moment
2008: Mary, Mary
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2009
"The Thunderbolt Kid"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
VIDEO OF THE DAY / WEEK / WHATEVER
and on You Tube
8 March 2009
I love National Geographic specials and often record them to share with Peggy, who also loves them. Last night I finally got around to watching one on Elephants that I had recorded a few weeks ago, but had not yet watched.
This morning I watched a video on Kangaroos that Peggy sent to me.
Both videos deal with a year in the life of a herd of each respective breed of animal.
I can't watch these videos without thinking about the things that I was taught in Catholic school when I was growing up. Things about man's dominion over the animals, about how human beings are the only species who have mastered the use of tools. About how animals rely on instinct and have no real emotions.
Maybe it's because it was the 40s and wildlife photography had not yet come into its own, but I defy anybody watching any wildlife special to believe any of that stuff.
I have always stood in awe of elephant societies and how organized they are. Watching reports of rogue elephants or elephants rampaging through towns and destroying them make me angry because it is we humans who have eroded their lands, leaving them little choice by to try to find something to eat in places where they once roamed (and fed) freely. It is we humans who have "tamed" the elephants, put them in zoos where they stand on hard concrete for decades at a time, or put them in zoos where they are made to perform tricks.
When you study elephants (and I admit that I have not studied elephants extensively), you realize what social animals they are and how they learn from each other and help each other and to stick them away in some zoo with one or two other animals, or chain them for years at a time so they can't get into trouble is simply creating the problems that we see result.
One of the most poignant moments in the elephant video concerned the movement of the herd at a watering hole. It was night and the hyenas were looking to feed on whatever weak member of the group they could find. A new baby had been born the day before and all the elephants in the group surrounded her and protected her. But they came upon a newborn who had been abandoned by another group. The baby was crying and crying and the hyenas were getting ready. The elephant herd rejected the baby and chased it away and moved on. The baby's cries were so anguished that I was nearly in tears myself, when all of a sudden the entire herd turned around, came back and swept the baby into the herd, to be adopted by the matriarch, who had just given birth to her own baby.
Later in the video, one of the babies slips down the side of a riverbank and gets mired in the mud. It was during an uneasy standoff between the herd of elephants and a herd of water buffalo over who would have first crack at the water. When the plight of the baby became known, the elephants divided themselves into two teams, one of which held the buffalo at bay while the other team struggled to free the baby from the mud which was hold it fast. Two of the elephants wrapped their trunks around his body and tried to lift him upright while another one frantically dug away at the bank of the river, making a ramp so he could climb out. He was saved.
(And I hope you watched this video that I posted awhile ago, about a herd of water buffalo rescuing a baby from both the jaws of an aligator and an attacking pride of lions! One of the most amazing wildlife videos I've seen--and it was caught by some tourist who just happened to be filming at the time.)
At one point in the video an old bull elephant dies and immediately becomes lunch for the hyenas. When the others come upon his bones, they are handled lovingly, carried around, caressed and it is only after every member of the group has said his goodbye to the remains that they moves on again. Who says animals have no emotion?
There is even at the very least curiosity shown to a young buffalo calf who was injured and lies dying. The elephants who pass seem to pay their respects before moving past.
It seems that we humans have a lot to learn from the way that elephants live their lives, with grace and dignity and loyalty to their friends and family.
The kangaroo video was fascinating, watching how babies are born and trained to become adults. I knew that minuscule hairless babies are born and remain in the pouch for several months until they are large enough to get out, but I didn't realize that they had to crawl, unaided, from the birth canal up to the pouch without the mother's assistance.
There is one section where little Jaffa, whose mother was not exactly the best mother, is lost and becomes easy prey for dingos. He manages to survive a dingo attack and his mother finally finds him, but his wounds are too severe. I cried when the little joey died. The narrator said that his mother's cries could be heard in the area for days.
It was interesting watching the young males learn how to box, starting with lessons from their mothers, when they are very young, and then rough housing with peers, and finally lessons from older males who could easily do them serious harm, but don't because they seem to understand that they are teaching the young ones how to defend themselves. It's only when they get old enough to become a mating threat to the leader of the pack that the boxing matches become serious and potentially fatal. But there is a progression from infancy to adulthood and everyone seems to respect it.
I just find stuff like this endlessly fascinating and with each
nature special my admiration for the diversity of nature, the intelligence of other
species of animals, and especially for the skill of wildlife photographers grows
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 100 miles