Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The last wild place on earth

The land is fertile, rich in trees and plants, unpopulated, unspoilt, and with lots of rain. In theory it’s a perfect home for wild animals to live.

Recently while driving to Torit I saw a leopard crossing the road. The rarity of seeing a leopard even in countries with more developed animal protection standards like Kenya made me think that there might be lots of them in Sudan. Seeing the leopard led to a conversation in which I was told that many in the Acholi tribe believe that people can turn into animals like leopards, hyenas, and cheetas. Everyone in the village knows who these people are and that they turn into animals. This was coming from a very educated person who is still a believer in this ‘magic’. But, who am I to judge? - maybe I’ll get to his home town and see this for myself…

There are also elephants roaming the lands here. Recently there was an elephant who wandered into a town called Narus. It was immediately killed and I was told that it was eaten and the Ivory was divided up between the rich men of the area who make rings and bracelets to show their wealth. Sadly this is the fate of many animals who would probably like to migrate to the rich lands of Sudan if there were a little protection for them from their biggest enemies- man. There is a Sudan Wildlife Service within the government, only time will tell how well they manage. Maybe Sudan will become the next Safari destination someday??

Aside from the big game animals, the smaller animals in Sudan are also impressive. I’m no birder, but there are the strangest birds here that I have ever seen. Eagles are everywhere, frogs surround me, not to mention the insects (of the ones I have seen I can’t imagine that they have all been identified before.) On the drive today we hit a wild guinea fowl. They run wild here and are abundant on the roads. After I saw the flash of feathers on the windshield our driver promptly stopped, collected the bird from the side of the road, and threw it in the vehicle for dinner. I didn’t get to taste it, but I’ve heard that guinea fowl is tasty.

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