Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Africa, everything bites . . .

That was a favorite saying of the late Peter Capstick, the well-known author and professional big-game hunter and guide in Africa.  It's just been proven true again with the near-death of a six-year-old boy in South Africa.

A leopard at a South African game reserve snatched a six-year-old boy and ran off with him.

Little Kellan Denny was attacked and dragged away by the big cat at Kruger National Park.

As the male leopard ran off with the youngster, his father Justin chased the big cat and screamed out: “No! No! No! This can’t be happening.”

Kellan was dragged 30 metres by the leopard who had sunk his teeth into the boy’s shoulder before he was recovered.

Justin was able to retrieve his son after the leopard dropped the boy from his jaws. Kellan, who is said to be ‘quite traumatised’ is now recovering at home.

There's more at the link.

What I can't understand is this:  if the family was South African, they've surely been taught that predators are opportunists, and will go for the weakest targets that can't fight back.  If they didn't know that, they were criminally negligent, because when I was growing up, every South African knew about the dangers of local wildlife.  It wasn't even a matter for speculation.  Everyone knew.

The fact that the victim was a six-year-old boy is also instructive.  In most of the tourist-friendly game farms and cheetah breeding centers in South Africa, there'll be a height chart next to the enclosures where tourists are allowed to enter and mingle with the animals.  It'll state that people under a certain height are not admitted - no matter what.  No exceptions.  The reason is that most African predators distinguish an easy meal from a difficult one by size.  Small and succulent equals good eating, irrespective of species;  therefore, small and succulent aren't allowed in with them.  This incident proves, once again, the wisdom of that policy.

Thanks be to God that the child was saved.  I reckon he'll grow up sadder, but wiser.



Bob said...

Probably saw too many Disney cute cuddly animal movies. Some places in Africa must be getting so "civilized" that the parents living there have joined the Stupid People club.

Odysseus said...

Hell I know for a fact the only reason my house-cats haven't eaten me is the size difference.

I'm still worried that one of them has some elaborate Rube Goldberg design planned to even the odds.

Rusty Gunner said...

YouTube is loaded with "cute" videos of toddlers at zoos where they are separated from large carnivores by a sheet of glass. The cats are very plainly doing their best to kill and eat the kids, but the kids (and some parents) look at it as an attempt to play. I don't think the correct or safest lesson is being taught here.

SiGraybeard said...

There used to be a Florida Panther rescue group that raised funds by bringing a fully grown panther to stores and malls. Beautiful cat, typically bored with the whole "go pose for the people" act. You could see the panther's whole demeanor change when a child walked up to the cage. Suddenly, he got very interested.

The handler would say, "he loves children - in the lunch sense".

It seems all panthers prefer prey somewhat smaller than they are. Standard advise for hiking is to make yourself look bigger if a panther confronts you. As if you've got a chance when a panther is stalking you.

lee n. field said...

“No! No! No! This can’t be happening.”


Akatsukami said...

@SiGreybeard: That's why maintaining an erect posture is also important. Pumas seem to treat a human standing upright as if he were a centaur, and logically conclude, "This is too much for me to handle". Bending over, though, reduces us in their eyes from a centaur to a whitetail...with a corresponding change in attitude.

Jim said...

Similar problems exist here in the US as well.
"We're having so much fun here at Yellowstone! Look honey! A buffalo! Go pose next to it while I snap a photo!"

Anonymous said...

Lucky chap, this could have ended in disaster.

Jaguars are fierce, see Jaguar Attacks Crocodile:

"National Geographic has exclusive video of a jaguar taking down a caiman in Brazil's Pantanal wetlands"

Toastrider said...

Nature is best observed from a distance.

Quartermaster said...

As Col. Jeff Cooper put it, when he got the news of a Leopard killing a guide after dark, "A leopard moves like smoke through fog." Apparent size doesn't always save you.