kejn: (planet kejn)
[personal profile] kejn
death is everywhere in the wild. horrible painful gooey death. it's part of nature. and if you live and work in a place like etosha you see traces of it every day.

go behind the cut to see the stomach-churning and heart-wrenching...

no snakes or spiders though!

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normally i wouldn't put bats in the gory category, but this little bugger that was stinking up the front yard at the house for days, and probably died of rabies (!!), makes the cut because it could just as well have dropped on my head at night had not [livejournal.com profile] yathin managed to stop the bat invasion in the house the very same day that i arrived.

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also, i have to admit that the climb up the spiral stairs in the okaukuejo tower was a bit creepy because there were tons of bats on and above every f*cking step all the way up! and they apparently like to decorate their homes with watery green stool and... blood splatter:

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one of the most heartbreaking sights i've seen in the wild - a newborn zebra, wounded and motherless, with only hours to live...

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see the difference between being all alone in the world, and having someone to care for you?

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can't say i saw many sickly or starving animals at all, but here's one scabby mother zebra with a healthy foal at okaukuejo waterhole:

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the making of an anthrax hotspot:

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bacillus anthracis produces a toxin that stops the blood from coagulating and when the infected animal dies this helps the bodily fluids to seep out into the ground. the "gut pile" forms the ground zero of the anthrax hot spot. the theory is that, over time, the nutrients added to the soil in these spots result in lusher vegetation, which attracts the herbivores, they graze or browse on leaves and roots with lots of spores on them, get infected, and the cycle starts all over again... a natural cycle of endemic anthrax.

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large grazers like zebra are most affected by the disease. browsers that eat leaves higher from the ground (in which the anthrax spores survive over long periods of time) are less affected. the infection can overpower an animal in a matter of a couple of days, seemingly without any symptoms. it more or less just.... drops dead.

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most carcasses have nothing to do with anthrax though, they're just evidence of predators doing what predators do...

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predators and scavengers are subjects to the same pain and misery as everyone else. rabies, for example, is widespread among the countless (legion!!) black backed jackals of etosha. poaching is apparently not a great problem in etosha, but this unfortunate jackal might have lost its paw in a snare somewhere:

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it was running around a springbok kill with other jackals when we saw it. who knows, the social structure of the family pack may allow it to survive with such a disability. or... it's already dead and eaten.

an old springbok that failed to run away fast enough:

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a possible disease vector, feasting on springbok cartilage:

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a rotting rhino head in the post-mortem room at the ecological institute:

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guess how badly that one stunk up the labs and offices after a couple of days of baking in the heat!


Date: 2013-05-09 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 1222.livejournal.com
I am I the only morbid person who found this post interesting?! So are these anthrax hotspots something that humans will/should intervene with or does nature just get to take its course?

One had to be on the lookout for rabid dogs and cats in LA, but coyotes and the like were generally too timid to be a threat to humans. How does one handle the threat of rabid bats?

Date: 2013-05-09 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kejn.livejournal.com
i'm glad for every morbid person on my flist, even if you do seem to be the only one. :)

there is so much we don't know about anthrax and etosha is a great natural lab to study it in. besides, i don't think there's anything you can do to get rid of it except for nuking the whole place...

how does one handle the threat of rabid bats? you avoid thinking of it. :)

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