Blogger Barry: For those of you who follow my blogs regularly, you
will know I’m a long-time student of wildlife and am fasinated with
the vagaries of nature. I’ve just finished “reading” ‘Ivory Apes
and Peacocks’ by Alan Root.
Despite studying the subject for many years, I’ve strangely never
heard of Alan Root. The book is not only fasinating, describing
some Never heard of before creatures. Alan writes in a delightful
humorous style. Below are 3 extracts which should bring a smile to
Mary Leeky was in residence and as always, asked us to stay. She
was a wonderful lady. A rapier sharp mind under rough and ready
exterior and with a great sense of humour. Totally in love with
the barren and baking gorge.and completely dedicated to the work
she was doing there.
Colonies of swifts had built their nests under the thatch above her
dining table, and in a minimal sock to hygiene, she had hung a
large sheet of satin high above the table to catch the droppings.
I don’t know how many years that hammock had been there, but I do
know that it bulged ominously under a huge weight of guano that
grew daily. Straws and camels backs always came to mind, and
eating a meal below that sagging sack was an exercise in optimism.
After dinner, it was always a relief to relocate to camp chairs
under the stars when mary would get stuck into her whisky and
cigars and good conversation.
Sharing the lawn with them was a male Crowned Crane that came to us
as an orphaned chick. he grew into a beautiful slender bird about
a metre high. Pale dove grey with a crown of 3 inch golden
bristles. We had no luck finding a mate for him and he was clearly
frustrated. However, in the middle of the lawn was a metre high
stand pipe, in lead and grey, topped with a shiny brass tap. A
Every day our crane would dance to his slender unresponsive love,
leaping and pirouetting with spread wings and bobbing head. He
would offer her gifts of grass hoppers. Pushing them into the
opening of the tap, and picking them up over and again when she
Happily, we eventually found him a proper mate and they went on to
raise chicks in the reeds along the lake shore. he and the stand
pipe are still good friends.
A friend in Zambia had caught a Pangolin and, deciding that I might
like it, he air freighted it to Kenya for me. A Pangolin is an ant
eating creature the size of a large cat, Covered in hard shiny
scales. It has a long tail that balances the animal as it scuffles
along with its short front feet and powerful claws just brushing
the ground. I described it in one film as bumbling around like a
In order to stop the smuggling of illegally held wildlife, the
Kenyan Game department had set up a station at the airport where
they could check on all animal and bird shipments.
Mum was informed there was a box there for collection and
inspection. My friend had sent me the licence and export permit
for the Pangolin per post, so it was quite legal, but I was away
and the permit was sitting in my post office box. Unfortunately,
the shipping box had previously been used for pets so stencilled in
large letters on the side was C.A.T. and this was causing some
confusion. The game department officer responsible for checks that
day was puzzled. he had never seen a cat like this, but the box
said cat, so a cat it must be and that would involve quarantine and
a hefty fee.
Mum had no idea what the creature was but looking into the box
said, “That’s not a cat. It is something else.” What that
something else was, she knew not. But realising she was not alone
in her ignorance, she was prepared to wing it.
The warden peered into the box where the Pangolin was tightly
curled up like a pine cone and asked, “What are those things all
over its back?” “Well they look like scales to me” ventured my
mother. “If they are scales, it must be some kind of fish”
declared this guardian of bio-diversity, pleased with his
inspection. Mum saw she was on a winning streak. “Do fish have to
be quarantined?” “No absolutely not.” “Is there import duty on
fish.” “No, they go free.” “You’re absolutely right. It is a
fish. So I’d better get it home and into water soon.” The warden
agreed that this was urgent and wished her well as mum walked out
with the box, the proud owner of Kenyas first feline ant eating
Blogger Barry: Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
use the comment and follow buttons.
Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
Motivational speaker, Guest & Key note speaker, Seminar &
Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,
For your Strategic Planning sessions, Management or Sales meetings,
Conferences and/or Seminars, Award functions, Year end parties,
Cape Town, South Africa.