Elizabeth Thomas: A Merry and Marvelous Ramble Through Mammalian Lives

Voices of Nature #19, Liz Thomas, A Merry and Marvelous Ramble Through Mammalian Lives

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Man-eating by lions is common throughout Africa, famously so in some places, but in the 1950s the lions in the interior did not hunt the San people. At the time the San were pre-contact, and for several reasons I am the only person who seems to have noticed the San/lion relationship. So it’s tragic that no wildlife biologist got a chance to study this, and by now the lions have a different culture, and have lost the don’t-kill-humans rule.

I was a 19 year-old English major when I first knew this, but does every wildlife discovery need a scientist to make it?

I will describe the lion/San relationship with numerous examples of lions not hunting people, also at least one example of a lioness trying successfully to scare me, also a few examples of lion empathy, also of their interest in the goings-on within their territories, including us while camping and —from time to time—the Ju/‘hoansi in their encampments, and also the experience of being hunted by a lioness with a lion waiting in the distance for her success. This took place in Etosha Park, and the experience proved that lions know that their eyes shine.

Elizabeth Thomas has been an anthropologist, ecologist and ethologist for nearly a century. She is a keen observer and the author of many popular books that bring readers into the lives of the animals she loves.

Presented at Climate, Biodiversity, and Survival: Listening to the Voices of Nature conference at Harvard University on November 17-18, 2018

#indigenous #africa #lions