The hippo who tried to kill me wasn’t a stranger – he and I had met before a number of times. I was 27 and owned a business taking clients down the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. I’d been working this stretch of river for years, and the grouchy old two-ton bull had carried out the occasional half-hearted attack. I’d learned to avoid him. Hippos are territorial and I knew where he was most likely to be at any given time.
That day I’d taken clients out with three apprentice guides – Mike, Ben and Evans – all in kayaks. We were near the end of the tour, the light was softening and we were taking in the tranquillity. The solid whack I felt behind me took me by surprise.
I turned just in time to see Evans, who had been flung out of his boat, flying through the air. His boat, with his two clients still in it, had been lifted half out of the water on the back of the huge bull hippo.
There was a cluster of rocks nearby and I yelled at the nearest apprentice to guide everyone there, to safety. Then I turned my boat and paddled furiously towards Evans.
I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.
I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.
I wriggled as hard as I could, and in the few seconds for which he opened his jaws, I managed to escape. I swam towards Evans, but the hippo struck again, dragging me back under the surface. I’d never heard of a hippo attacking repeatedly like this, but he clearly wanted me dead.
Hippos’ mouths have huge tusks, slicing incisors and a bunch of smaller chewing teeth. It felt as if the bull was making full use of the whole lot as he mauled me – a doctor later counted almost 40 puncture wounds and bite marks on my body. The bull simply went berserk, throwing me into the air and catching me again, shaking me like a dog with a doll.
Then down we went again, right to the bottom, and everything went still. I remember looking up through 10 feet of water at the green and yellow light playing on the surface, and wondering which of us could hold his breath the longest. Blood rose from my body in clouds, and a sense of resignation overwhelmed me. I’ve no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.
A 4.4 meter-14 3/4’ (or 4.8 meter—15 3/4’, depending whom you believe) saltwater crocodile which had made a habit of menacing schoolchildren for two years in the vicinity of Palumpa, in the Daly River Reserve of Australia’s Northern Territory, kept up its local reign of terror too long. After a final incident of the big croc preventing children crossing a causeway to attend school, police and council members trapped the beast in a local billabong last week and shot him.
There have long been rumors that eagles are not only capable of preying on lambs, but may even go so far as to take human infants when given the opportunity. Wildlife experts have consistently pooh-poohed such stories, dismissing them as folklore.
It’s really kind of sad. A white-tailed buck beat up on two East Texas rednecks and then stole a pack of Marlboros from one of the victims. The pitiful Texans then dropped a dime on the victorious buck.
1:09 video (Autoplay would not turn off in the embedded version.)
A wolf attacked 56-year-old Aishat Maksudova near her sister’s home in Dagestan in the Northern Caucusus. Maksudova was on her way to repair a fence, and tried to stop a wolf from attacking a calf. The wolf went after her instead, biting her leg and left hand, and knocking her to the ground. Fortunately, Maksudova was able to bring into play the axe she was carrying to repair the fence. She hit the wolf right on the head, splitting its skull and killing it dead.
“I’m going into training. Next time, I’ll run faster.”
The old Green Mountain State, once home to rugged individualists and real outdoorsmen, has become a favored residence of affluent fashionistas. Politically, the ‘chucks (as newcomers derisively refer to native Vermonters) are reliably outvoted by treehuggers, goat milkers, and aging Trustafarian hippies.
In the old days, the Vermont state character was typified by drinkers and brawlers like Ethan Allen and by thrifty and laconic Yankees like Calvin Coolidge. Today, it has socialist Bernie Saunders representing it in the US Senate and a governor who champions gay marriage and everyone’s “right to health care” at somebody else’s expense.
Vermont’s wimp democrat Governor Peter Shumlin was recently frightened by some of the local wildlife.
Shumlin says he was in bed in his rented Montpelier home late Wednesday night when he heard what turned out to be four bears in the backyard.
He says he looked out and saw the bears, including two cubs. He tried to chase the bears away, but they kept coming back.
Shumlin says he ran out barefoot in an attempt to rescue his birdfeeders. He says one of the bears charged him on the porch.
Shumlin tells the Valley News editorial board that Vermont “almost lost the governor.” He says he was within “three feet of getting ‘arrrh.’”
Black bears are rough on bird feeders. They typically totally demolish them to get at their contents more conveniently.
Some years back, at my farm in Central Pennsylvania, my father was making his morning coffee, when he looked out and saw a group of bears taking apart his bird feeders. My father stepped outside the cabin door, right on top of the offending bruins, pointed his .44 Magnum revolver in the air and touched off a couple of rounds. He then phoned me and reported with delight the comedy that ensued, noting with surprise just how fast properly motivated bears can run and describing exactly how funny they looked running for their lives up the mountain side.
Governor Shumlin went out and doubtless tried to influence them by making a speech.
All this proves that bears pay no attention to democrats, but understand the language spoken by Smith & Wesson extremely well.
The female grizzly bear, referred to as the Wapiti sow, killed Brian Matayoshi on July 6, 2011 and then killed John Wallace on August 27, 2011, after officials declined to hunt the bear responsible. The Wapiti sow was finally trapped in late September and euthanized October 2nd after four days of forensic analysis and chin stroking.
Jessica Grose, in Slate, describes how the swift and hearty justice dealt out to man-killing grizzlies in simpler and less-grovelly-toward-Nature times has been replaced by a new intensely ethically conscientious regime that will only kill bears which are deemed to have behaved with “unnatural aggression” or which have been found to have eaten people.
In the bad old days, they knew what to do with man-killing bruins.
The first extensively documented death by grizzly within Yellowstone Park’s borders was the fatal mauling of 61-year-old government laborer Frank Welch in 1916. And the park’s first extensively documented judicial execution of a grizzly soon followed. Some historians suspect the bear that killed Welch was abnormally ill-tempered because his toes had been ripped off when he escaped from a trap in 1912. Whatever the bear’s motives, though, Welch’s fellow laborers decided that “Old Two Toes” deserved to die for his crimes. Men from the road camp where Welch had been working placed some edible garbage in front of a barrel filled with dynamite. When the bear began to eat, they blew it to smithereens.
That was how grizzlies were treated if they injured humans in the early days of Yellowstone: They were killed.
Not today. Today, when Ephraim or Ephraimina takes out a tax paying citizen, there is the equivalent of a judicial procedure. There are major exculpatory loopholes. And even totally guilty bears are put down reluctantly, as big, salty tears pour down the faces of the responsible officials.
Every bear is pwecious, you see.
The euthanization of the bear known as “the Wapiti sow” was the culmination of a series of horrifying events that had gripped Yellowstone for months, and alarmed rangers, visitors, and the conservation biologists tasked with keeping grizzly bears safe. In separate incidents in July and August, grizzlies had killed hikers in Yellowstone, prompting a months-long investigation replete with crime scene reconstructions and DNA analysis, and a furious race to capture the prime suspect. The execution of the Wapiti sow opens a window on a special criminal justice system designed to protect endangered bears and the humans who share their land. It also demonstrates the difficulty of judging animals for crimes against us. The government bear biologists who enforce grizzly law and order grapple with the impossibility of the task every day. In the most painful cases, the people who protect these sublime, endangered animals must also put them to death.
Whenever a grizzly bear commits a crime in the continental United States, Chris Servheen gets a call at his office at the University of Montana in Missoula. Servheen has been the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three decades. ...
Before Servheen, Gunther, and their bear management colleagues could decide what to do, they’d need a lot more information. Was a grizzly bear in fact responsible for this second death? If so, which bear did the mauling? And what were the circumstances that led up to attack—was it provoked or had some hiker just been caught unaware? The answers to those questions would determine whether a precious animal would need to die. ...
Wildlife biologists like Kerry Gunther help the park’s crime-scene investigators by speculating on a bear’s emotional state. Based on the evidence at hand, he tries to determine whether a given act of bear aggression might have been a natural behavior—the result of being startled while feeding on an elk carcass, for example, or seeing someone approaching her cubs. If a bear appears to have followed a hiker down the trail instead of backing off, or if it attacked campers while they were asleep, that would be more unusual—the result, perhaps of a deranged grizzly mind.
If you blunder into a bear that is thought to have attacked and killed you out of natural aggression (you violated that bear’s space, dude!) or via an impulse of self defense, that’s just too bad for you. The bear goes free, as long as he refrains from dining on your pitiable remains.
The authorities in question reluctantly draw the line at actual predation, simply because they are afraid of the public response to tolerating man-eaters in National Parks.
The zero-tolerance policy for man-eating bears invites an obvious question, though. Once a bear kills someone, whether it’s out of some wild-animal psychopathy or a natural inclination to defend her young, why wouldn’t she eat the corpse? Everyone agrees that it’s natural for grizzlies to eat carrion—they’re scavengers, after all. When I ask Servheen whether grizzlies can get “a taste for human blood”—whether a grizzly that starts eating people-meat will desire it endlessly—he dismisses the idea. “That’s for horror stories in movies,” he says. “Bears don’t get a taste for human blood. There’s no studies that show that.”
No studies show it, in part because every time a bear eats someone, they kill it. Not that it’s something that would ever be studied—biologists would never want to take the risk of keeping a bear that had eaten a person in the greater bear population. “We don’t want to test whether bears really get a taste for people,” Gunther explains. “The public wouldn’t appreciate us using them as subjects.” That’s for horror movies, but it seems like even the bear biologists think there might be some truth to the campfire legends.
Leopard (Panthera pardus) attacking and wounding a Pintu Deyan, an Indian laborer in the residential neighborhood of Silphukhuri in Gowhatty, a large city in the northeast Indian state of Assam on January 7, 2012.
Three people were seriously injured in the leopard attack before the leopard was tranquilized. A former journalist and lawyer called Deva Kumar Das succumbed to his injuries on Sunday. The condition of the other two was said to be stable.
It is always a good day for NYM when we are able to add one more dire effect to the Warmlist catalogue.
Julie Cart, at the LA Times, consults the environmental seers who explain that grizzly bear predation on humans in Wyoming and Montana results from Global Warming.
A number of complex factors are believed to be working against grizzlies, including climate change. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to decimate the white-bark pine, whose nuts are a critical food source for grizzlies. Meanwhile, there has been a slight seasonal shift for plants that grizzlies rely on when they prepare to hibernate and when they emerge in the spring, changing the creatures’ denning habits.
The result, some biologists say, is that bears accustomed to feasting on berries and nuts in remote alpine areas are being pushed into a more meat-dependent diet that puts them on a collision course with the other dominant regional omnivore: humans.
The LA Times finds that Italians have better political scandals.
Reporting from Rome — The governor made off to a monastery after having affairs with transsexuals, but not before the cops videotaped a tryst, all flesh and white powder, and offered to sell copies to a magazine owned by the prime minister, who, at the time, was rumored to be entangled with an underage Neapolitan model.
Then one of the transsexuals, a Brazilian named Brenda, turned up naked and dead, her laptop computer submerged under a running tap. Oh, yeah, and the drug dealer who supplied cocaine to the governor and Brenda would meet his own demise. It’s an odd coincidence.
Glenn Reynolds explains why the federal government has come to resemble Schlitz beer.
Leo Grin, at Big Hollywood has a four part essay on Werner Herzog, Timothy Treadwell, and “Grizzly Man” (2005). Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4.
Big Hollywood is promising more in-depth reviews of significant conservative films.