From a distance any animal looks cute, they pose for a picture, they are elegant and they are all the beautiful things in the world that we can think of, until they are up close and personal and maybe show some true colours of who they really are – “Animals”. What does the word “Animal” mean? The name sometimes implies the absence of the higher faculties peculiar to man.
If this is the case, then why would we treat the animals around the lodge perimeters any different to the animals in the field? Let me say that animals near the lodges enjoy advantages, which would include getting easy food (by stealing!) and knowing that they are safe. This is may be why they like to hang around humans and the structures that man built. Touching them does not seem to be part of the deal, but discouraging them and respecting who they are and not necessarily fearing them but giving them the space they deserve. Animals are animals; we have to respect the leopard as a leopard and treat it as such, whether the animal is walking through the lodge or out in the field it is still the same. This also applies to other animals around the lodge, such as buffalo, monkeys or nyala.
We came into their territories and home ranges, not the other way around. The fact that a monkey jumps on to the table for a muffin does not make him cute, it makes him bold and maybe a bit more corrupted into scoring a quick easy meal, which is behaviour we need to discourage, since they should not even know about muffins and all of our fancy foods. Let’s not forget they are instinctive creatures that wouldn’t hesitate to defend themselves in the one way they know how to, let’s not feed them because they know how to feed themselves, let’s not try to “humanize” them – they are animals!
Let’s appreciate them for what they are. Believing in responsibility and ethics should not only be taught, but also practiced!