Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the biggest and the smallest

Here on Harnas--as in the wild--life and death are close to the surface, unlike in the urban and suburban worlds where we like to keep ourselves separate from the gritty aspects of living, eating, and dying. With 400 animals living in approximately 38 square miles, both predator and prey, things happen. Animals come and animals go; birth and death.

Having said that, I have two sad deaths to report--one, especially, is hard because I just wrote a blog about him. DooDoo the owl was killed on Monday night by one of the 45-plus cats that live here. For 8 years, DooDoo has lived in Marieta's kitchen, but that night, a cat broke through one of her screens on a window, and in the morning Marieta found DooDoo's body. The volunteers buried him yesterday in the animal cemetery close to the lapa. As you can imagine, those who knew DooDoo are very upset, and Marieta claims if she finds the cat, he'll be joining DooDoo (but she doesn't mean it). The kitchen seems so quiet now, and in truth I miss the drama of wondering if he'll swoop by and grab some of my hair.

So one of the smallest is gone, and this week we also lost the largest animal on the property: the big, wild male giraffe. Apparently, during a storm he walked underneath a power line. The line was high enough not to hit him, but I was told that during storms, the electricity can spread out up to a meter in any direction. He was found dead the next day. He was enormous! I saw him just a few weeks ago at the end of the airstrip, and he was truly a giant. Klippie, a female and not fully grown, looks like a miniature giraffe next to him. He is too big to bury or move, so he will stay there until the other animals make use of his body. That's the way things go in the wild: an animal dies and others live because of--or in spite of--it.

I don't want to leave with a sad note, so let me give you some happy updates. Jessie and Coco are completely recovered from their injuries. They are jumping around like acrobats, swimming in the pool, and basically making mischief. I took Jessie for a few hours last night, and I'll include a short video of Jessie and me (and Pickles) hanging out on my bed.

The new caracal, Zinzi, is also adjusting. She let me pet her some last night--only hissing and striking out halfheartedly when I got too close to her belly or paws. And by the way, one of Harnas' best friends, Cornelia, pointed out in a comment that I wrote the former owner "unfortunately got married." Sorry about that! I swear it wasn't a Freudian slip! I meant it was unfortunate that she had to move to an apartment with her new husband BECAUSE it meant giving up her pet caracal. (I did laugh out loud, though, Cornelia!)

So literally, life goes on here at Harnas. And the loss of animals reminds me how precious and wonderful each moment is at this magical place.

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