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I took this photo: Archeological footnote

footnote

Footnote: Awe and humility, interspecies relationship – big brain v. big body.

It is impossible for me to feel confident in the world these days. The natural disasters alone will set most any thinking person on edge. Add the political instability, of which the US president is a primary source, the ongoing racial, religious, and economic development conflicts, renewed nuclear threats, the mass destruction of the remaining wild places, unprecedented extinctions, the demise of clean water, climate change, and the pillaging of natural resources in places that were thought inviolable and there is enough to stop your heart from beating.

We have big brains. How can we be so utterly ignorant and stupid?

I have a sense of how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. I am but one person. If I don’t answer “urgent” phone calls, emails, or texts, emergencies will be resolved, decisions will be made, and the world will go on. No matter how famous, infamous, rich, or important I may become, all trace of me (except my plastic legacy) will disappear in the blink of a geologic eye. In totality, and geologically, human beings are not of much greater significance.

We evolved big brains that allowed us to domesticate plants and animals for food, turn metal into tools, create art and music, and to send men to the moon. If we are not going to use our brains for the collective good of the human population – not to mention the Earth as our only sustaining home – then I can only hope that the whole of humanity is found to be evolutionarily insignificant and passes the way of the dodo. Which, not incidentally, was wiped out by humans.

I took this photo to record the awe and humility I felt simply stepping into an elephant’s footprint in its native African home. If we cannot appreciate the magnificence of the world around us and rally our collective intellect to better sustain us and the resources we depend upon, we deserve to be nothing more than an archeological footnote to a more evolved species of the future. Perhaps something with a big body rather than a big brain. I hope it’s the elephants.

Rhinoceros resort, restore, restart

Extirpated from the wild in most of Africa,  I had the good fortune to see black rhinoceroses on a private preserve in Zimbabwe last year.

Finding them after dark, a spotlight illuminated a calf scampering about behind its placidly eating mother. Her horns were cut off to deter poaching and the animals are under 24-hour armed guard.

The black rhino population dropped from an estimate of several hundred thousand in the early 1900s to 2,410 by the late 1990s. The primary cause for this decline is poaching. Several subspecies are extinct.

These photos are fuzzy and full of nighttime darkness and shadows. At first, I was disappointed by them. A year later, they seem to appropriately suit their state in the world.

rhino calf

Wary of the light and strangers, a rhino calf hides behind its mother.

rhinocerous

The mama rhino has been dehorned as a measure of protection against poaching. Her dehorned shadow is visible on her calf’s side as it moves behind her.

rhinoceros back

Rhino back, fade to black. What will the world be without rhinos?

Quieter moments

 

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Maun, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Waterbuck, Zimbabwe

Emerald-spotted wood dove, Moremi National Park, Botswana

Whoa, amazing butt balance.

sunset elephant

midnight stars, Maun, Botswana

midnight stars, Maun, Botswana

The next road

Tomorrow I am off to Africa. For the next month, I’ll be cruising around Botswana and the Victoria Falls area of Zimbabwe camping, hiking, canoeing, and, I hope, taking killer photos and scribbling down blog-post ideas. I’m leaving my computer behind (Yay!) but I will post things as I have access. Enjoy the summer and stay well. xoxo T

p.s. Catch a reprint of The Imnaha Dreams on ScholarsandRogues.com here:

The search for a ‘peaceful journey’