“Love” for wildlife…and other neglected illnesses

Our world famous compatriot Lupita Nyong’o was one of those who have been recruited in the past to get us to ‘love’ wildlife. My friend Ted Malanda writing about Lupita Nyongo’s homecoming in back in 2015 opined that she was lost, and said this; “If you want to save elephants, never say you love them. Revere and fear them. Love blinds one to reality.” Lupita as an actress probably didn’t know better and learned from Ted’s cup of wisdom. Conservationists who profess ‘love’ for wildlife on the other hand, aren’t blinded to reality. They know what is real and use these emotional expressions to shield it from observation. What reality are they hiding? One might ask. Many things, including schizophrenia, cruelty, racism, depression and all manner of neuroses. An interesting aspect I have observed directly and through media over the years is that the acuity of this neurosis is directly proportional to the sharpness of the focus of the ‘love’. Simply put, someone who ‘loves’ a certain wildlife habitat/ landscape is normal. One who loves a single species exclusive of others is an eccentric oddball. One who works to protect a particular species from others is suffering schizophrenia. The one who loves and ‘follows’ or ‘owns’ a particular (named) individual of a species is in stage 4. For your own welfare, avoid this individual, particularly if you are a native of the country in which his or her illness is manifesting. Who are these people? Stage 4 examples include the late Diane Fossey, Joy Adamson, and George Adamson. There are many living ones, but I won’t name them in order to avoid alarming those who cannot avoid them like their spouses, employees, or children. What are the symptoms of this neurosis within African conservation practice?

  1. People who ‘love’ elephants so much that they kidnap calves from the wild and cuddle them in orphanages (where black men sleep with them in stables)
  2. People who ‘love’ chimpanzees so much that when a chimp snatches and eats a (black) human baby, they move the humans away, and do nothing to the chimp.
  3. People who ‘love’ grevy’s zebras so much that they enclose them behind a fence, and request for permission to kill lions to protect the beloved zebras
  4. People who love northern white rhinos so much that they “euthanize” and old male because he is “suffering”, but only after the surgically harvest all the sperm they can from him for use in impregnating his daughter apparently to “save the species”
  5. The same people in #4 who love white rhinos so much that they spend millions to anaesthetize females and surgically harvest their ova for in vitro fertilization with their father’s sperm in a lab in Europe
  6. People who love wildlife so much that they will insert cameras into the wombs of pregnant females to photograph the unborn fetuses. See https://brightside.me/article/15-amazing-photographs-of-animals-in-the-womb-39855/

There are many more examples, but you get the idea. Unlike most mental illnesses, this schizophrenia is contagious, and infects African people and institutions too. Examples are:

  1. Cabinet minister and County Governor attending a ‘funeral’ for a wild animal that was killed by the very people who ‘loved’ it so much.
  2. A state authority that can accept the naming of giant-tusked elephant after a former hunter (who also sits on its board)
  3. Black  conservationists who can advocate for agreements that remove their kinsmen from their ancestral lands to make room for foreign tourists and ‘investors’
  4. Black conservationists who want us to ‘fall in love’ with our wildlife
  5. Wildlife veterinarians employed by a state authority running around in the bush treating wild animals that have been injured in interspecific or intraspecific fights with other wild animals.

There are myriad examples, but the question we must ask is: What is this ‘love’ for something that is wild and doesn’t even know you? My friend Darius Okolla (an economist) has an elegant description these people; They are a “Paranoid elite who are unable co-exist with anything that they cannot appropriate in one way or another”. That appropriation can be in the form of capturing them for entertainment, killing them for trophies or to satisfy bloodlust, or even naming them. You will note that none of the unfortunate named creatures bears an African name. Indigenous Africans through the ages have revered wildlife, lived with wildlife, killed wildlife, been killed by wildlife, and even named children after wildlife (unlike the schizophrenics, who do the reverse). However, we do not ‘love’ wildlife, because we never aspired to appropriate it, and that is why we have more wildlife remaining than the countries from which these saviours come with their gospel. A foreigner’s love for our wildlife is usually a measure of their hatred for indigenous people and paranoia. In Africa, we need to protect ourselves and our heritage from this schizophrenia which has decimated wildlife in other continents. Here in Kenya If you’re black and someone who has never told you that they love us tells you how much they ‘love’ our wildlife, back off slowly and protect your children from them. A famous stage 4 schizophrenic who loved a particular lion after its mother was killed by her husband is described thus by George Monbiot writing in ‘The Guardian’ in 2002: “Joy Adamson, who was one of the most viciously racist and brutal characters ever to carve a career in Africa, used the status afforded by her books and the films they inspired to wage war on the indigenous people.”

Protect yourself from professed “Love” for wildlife.