Dee's Blog
Tue 09/23/2008
Keeping the Wild Life Reserves from Becoming Dangerous
Topic: coping

Back in the 80's when we were living in Malawi, a young mother and her daughter were walking in an area near a wild life reserve.  It was located right in the heart of a major city, however.  Generally, the wild animals did not leave their protected area.  This time, unfortunately, one did.  When it was least expected--right in the heat of the day!  The result was disastrous.

The young girl, walking ahead of her mother, was suddenly attacked by a hyena.  In order to save her daughter, the mother distracted the hyena, who then turned on her and bit off several of her fingers before somebody managed to come to her rescue and somehow scare the animal so that it ran off into the woods.  I do not recall what decisions were made about tracking down the wild animal; but as I recall, people were quite certain it would be impossible to even do so.  People could only look at the story and learn from it, drawing conclusions as best they could about what actions to take in the future--in regard to city politics, as well as individual actions for self-protection.

The protected area had always been considered quite safe for visitors, as well as wild life.  There were rules so that hikers did not trespass onto the rights of animals.  It was as though there was invisible fencing around the wild life reserve. 

Nobody knows what went wrong, but the results sent shivers down the spines of the city's residents as they read the paper telling of the incident.

It was a strong reminder that we must be vigilant, and that there are limitations and unpredictable outcomes at times, even when we've lived for years in harmony with others who are enjoying the wild life areas.

So do we want to do away with the areas where we can learn and explore and consider how we want to believe and live in connection with other creatures, including people who are also learning and exploring, learning to tame the wildernesses of their lives?  Or do we want to just work to make them safer while respecting the choices of those who choose to use the areas and choose where and how they will roam?

Those are the big questions that keep environmentalists, as well as politicians, engaged in conversations that aren't about to end anytime soon.  They are the same nature of conversations that take place in our institutions when it comes to what we do with people who act like wild animals.

Keeping the freedom to think and move, while still enjoying the advantages of the wild life, is indeed a challenge!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT

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