Wildlife Photos

In the animal world that includes humans, we tend to get caught up in the competition for goodies: territory, water, and plant and animal foods.That sometimes leads us to develop hatred toward rodents or predators who have trouble distinguiishing between natural and husbanded foodstuffs and territories.

That occasionally leads humans to declare specie-cide, if there is such a word. A statewide bounty for coyote ears of $2, lead to a destructive crop of rabbits. There were other interesting "cides", some deliberate and some accidental. If you kill the birds, you can be overrun by insects or weeds. If the birds eat all the bees, many crops do not get pollinated. In short, we are all part of a kind of interwoven fabric, and it requires balance. If something gets out of balance, that balance has to be restored.

Sometimes the humans are at the top of that food chain, and sometimes, we aren't. In the African game parks, I was keenly aware that any stupid behavior could place me lower in that food chain. As a farmer' daughter and granddaughter of many generations, I have great respect for the rights of other animals, but I also know that survival is a harsh teacher. We kept cats to keep the mice from fouling the grain in the graineries, and we kept dogs to control or frighten the rodent and larger predator populations. Animals who became emboldened beyond the cats and dogs could encounter fire power. If Mother got out Daddy's six-shooter for the skunk in the henhouse or the chicken hawk, the chickens weren't the only ones to take cover. Dogs, cats and children scattered. When it came to chickens and turkeys, Mother did not give a fig for balance of nature.

Despite the harsh realities and the competition for goodies, animals, birds and some insects are fascinating and even beautiful. Snakes? Don't push your luck. Spiders? Only tarantulas, please.