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Dee Walmsley - 
January 20, 2004
Just a Junco - 

He hopped down from his perch in the azalea bush as I mixed together the bucket of fertilizer and water. Just a tiny Oregon Junco taking
in the sun or so I thought until he showed no fear or apprehension in my presence. I knew he was sick and that it was only a matter of time
before the end. I sat on the edge of the front porch talking softly to this little bird as he slowly pecked his way across the flowerbed. 
He hopped onto the lawn and I steered him away from the flowers I was about to feed and then watched as he drank from the dripping hose. As
I returned to refill my bucket I saw him checking out my ornamental cedar and thought good, you ll be safe there. Bringing him in the house
wouldn t help and knew the trauma of being handled would be more upsetting than letting nature take its course, and so when I saw him
disappear into the greenery I was relieved. 

I went about fertilizing the roses when a small movement on the road caught my eye. Oh no! It couldn't be, and then the wind caught a
tiny feather and I knew. I waited anxiously as two cars passed by then confirmed my suspicions. There lay the remains of a tiny body that
only minutes before had quenched its thirst from my hose. I crossed back over the road to get a utensil to remove the squashed body as the
traffic continued. When I returned only a spot on the road and one blood-soaked feather remained along with my guilt for not intervening.
He was just a junco, now a little niche in my heart. 

Mthoniswa Banda
Oct. 11, 2003

Hupenyu the Black Cat.
We were told by the elders that she was an evil omen. She brought bad luck and misery to naughty kids who dared play with her. Even if we had plenty of food to give, we could not do that for fear of being beaten. Hupenyu was the name we gave to the hated black cat. No-one knew where she came from. One early dark morning there she was perched on our pigeon shelter. At first we all thought she wanted to kill our birds but a second glance at her showed that Hupenyu took a fancy at the birds in a non-predatory way. She seemed so lonely that she was ready be-friend the birds. What was so bad and so evil about this black cat that made elders hate it? I asked myself. When I asked the elders in the days that followed no satisfactory answer was given to me, but as I pushed harder for answers, bits and bit of information started coming my way. The bits and bits of news were shocking to me when put together! Hupenyu the Black Cat was hated because of customary belief. My elders believed that a black cat was used by wizards and witches in their journeys at night! This is a belief that had been passed on since time immemorial from one generation to another. My elders generation was trying to pass it on to mine. Such a shocking customary belief was responsible for the many cats that had been mercilessly killed in my village. No wonder it was hard to find a black cat. Think how many animals have been killed in some cruel way because people had false and un researched information on the behaviour of these animals? I don t know what became of Hupenyu but what I am pretty sure of is that no one has seen Hupenyu in the last couple of months. My guess is that someone killed her be cause of the belief that she was evil.
Mthoniswa Banda 
July 13, 2003
No Room To Expand 
We met him on our way to our sampled area, about 115 km north of the Kafue River s Hook Bridge in Zambia s Kafue National Park. We were on a Zambia Wildlife Authority (Zawa) and Earthwatch (UK) funded research project. He looked lonely and lost. He weighed about 200 kg and from the look of ugly marks on his usually beautiful gray coat, a powerful animal had beaten him.  When we drove past him on that morning, he didn t seem scared or even cared that we were in his area. He looked as though he had given up hope of ever living in this beautiful national park. That is a strange behaviour for a wild animal in the national park!  Being new to the Kafue National Park (KNP), I asked one of the wildlife officers what they thought he was doing alone in a place where
predators like the lion reigned supreme. He has probably being chased by his father, one of them told me. The wildlife officer explained to me the hippos usually chased their male children when they became of age or in some cases when the father realized that the wife had given birth to a male hippo. They do this so as to have no challenges from this new comer, they told me. 
The wildlife officers said the male hippos are sometimes hidden at birth from their fathers and are not allowed to join the rest of the
family lest the male hippos in the river kill them. Because the young hippo was wild and probably never had met human beings before, he didn t have a name. For the sake of this story the writer shall call him Tawanda. 
Tawanda became one of our many sights every morning when we left camp to our designated research sites. 
He sometimes would be found lying close to the dusty path that we used every day or he could be lying under the yellow thorny bush
prominent in the Lufupa River area in the KNP North. Every morning we could tell from the marks on his gray coat if he had attempted to join his family. Gostavio Bwalya, one of the Zawa wildlife officers on the project, explained to me that because of the growth in the population of the
hippos in the KNP, and the drying up of the Lufupa River, many male hippos are being killed by their fathers. 
Hippos are territorial animals, when a male hippos invades the territory of another male hippo, the two will have to fight until one of
them leaves or dies, Bwalya said. 
He explained that Tawanda probably was being mistaken by his father as a challenger to the territory that the family controls. 
The only way we can save Tawanda is to find him a place he will call his territory, Bwalya continued. 
Hippos like other migratory animals of the KNP are finding it hard to live their natural lives as they would want to because the size of the areas that were designated as parks are surrounded by human activities (villages and farms). If it we not so, Tawanda would probably had found another river to go to to start his new life. There is need to increase the heartlands of Zambia to accommodate the expansionary behavior of hippos and their cousins the elephants to avoid such fights for survival as seen from Tawanda and his father, Bwalya sadly concluded. 

25 octobre, 2000

 J'ai trouvé une chenille hier et elle était brune et noire



Dee Walmsley
Wildlife Whispers
February 19, 1999

Black Squirrel

He scared the hell out of me at our first encounter. I was filling up
bird-feeders in the wooded area behind my home when a black animal, the size of a small cat, flew out of the tree and off into the bush. It
wasn't long before he was back, robbing the sunflower seeds from the
birds and surveying his new territory.

Black squirrels are a form of the Eastern grey squirrel, a species introduced into one of Vancouver’s main tourist attractions, Stanley Park, less than 50 years ago. Since then, they have eventually spread throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and are now
considered pests.

More easily tamed than BC's native Douglas squirrel, they are known for
their foraging frenzies, literally eating their way through a neighborhood. They also have acquired a reputation for their habit of sharing man’s habitat, particularly nice warm attics.

Being aware of his less than desirable traits, when I first spotted him in the trees of my yard, I was filled with mixed emotions. He was obviously hungry. His coat, a lusterless charcoal, lacked the glossy ebony of a healthy squirrel. His ribs vibrated against his thin body as he hungrily consumed the tasty morsels.

The autumn leaves were wearing their fall colors: crimson, burnt orange, yellow and cinnamon. Some had already given up their last hold on life, as they released themselves from their branches and floated to the forest floor. Others hung on precariously, fearing the next wind, which would whirl them up into the air before they too came to rest, decay, and give new life.

As I retreated back into my warm home, I pondered the fate of the black squirrel. His chances of surviving the winter were minimal. This was a new territory for him, no winter's cache, no hollowed tree-nest, only a food source shared by twittering birds and scolding Douglas squirrels.

Winter came earlier than usual; I awoke one morning and there it was, in
all it's glory. The ground was covered with a blanket of snow, sparkling in the sunlight like crystal. The trees, their branches bent from the weight of the snow, bowed towards the ground as they paid homage to the new season. And there, under the bird-feeder, he sat: bony black, his shiny, thick coat absorbing the sun's rays.
He had survived.

I saw him during the winter. Once or twice he visited the feeders nearest the house and, then, in spring, the bulldozers destroyed his new habitat. He was seen flitting through the rubble, digging in the soft dirt, and running along neighborhood fences. Workers started bringing peanuts for the homeless vagrant, which he scooped up and squirreled away in a nearby cedar hedge. He soon won the hearts of the construction crew on his daily visits. Many tidbits were stolen from unguarded lunch boxes, as the burly men watched with delight while pounding nails into fir trusses and plywood walls.

The black squirrel had found his niche at last. He had friends, food, and, across the road, an old maple provided him shelter. He had formed a trust with his new territory and human companions: a trust, unfortunately, that would soon end.  Sadly, crossing the road between his tree-den and the construction site, he was seen being deliberately run down by a cruel driver. The small squirrel's ebony body met with the car's black tires, taking the life out of the little creature and the joy from my, and the construction workers’, heart.

Karen Townsend
Alma, N.B.
January 1999
On a September night much after dark I was at the beaver pond. I saw on the earth of the dam five spots of light glowing steadily. How beautiful! I had never seen anything like this before. I reached into the grasses carefully searching out one of the lights. It moved a little--I was touching it. I scooped a bit of earth and my hands were glowing. I had a star on the end of my finger!!!

In the beam of the flashlight, this was no star. It had six legs and a long
grublike body. I found out later it was a baby firefly. Firefly larvae
creep along the soil eating small insects, snails and earthworms. They
spend the winter sleeping under a stone. (Sounds cosy?) Next summer they are active again in the mud. Only after a second winter as a larva do they then finally pupate--melting themselves down and reforming into the adult fireflies we know so well.

Has anyone else seen these lights in the mud?

Jim Goltz
January 1999
As we snowshoed through the forest toward a hidden lake, a flash of movement a short distance ahead caught our eye. "What was that?", we asked one another. After the pang of excitement subsided enough for our impressions to crystallize, it was clear that we had seen a mammal about the size and general shape of a Cocker Spaniel dog. It could only have been a Bobcat or Lynx! We stealthily approached the site where we had glimpsed the apparition and then made faint squeaking noises, trying to imitate a small rodent. From the dense evergreen thicket, two young Bobcats crept toward us, their tufted ears perked up to find the source of the sound of potential prey. Both wore lush coats of grey-brown, mottled with small irregular poorly defined dark patches. The diagnostic black cap on the top half of their stubby tail was clearly visible (in Lynx, the entire tip of the tail is black, not just the top half). When they saw us, they quickly dashed across the trail and vanished into the forest. We had often seen Bobcat tracks in New Brunswick but this was our first glimpse of what made the tracks. Every time I put on my showshoes I think of them.
Jim Goltz
January 1999
The memories of a very special Canada Day are still etched in my mind. We spent over half of the day driving along an old logging trail, trying to reach a wetland famous for its wild orchids. We wondered if we would ever get there. Young saplings often arched across the trail, obscuring our view. A big rock got wedged under the van. A beaver dam had flooded a huge stretch of the trail. Somehow we overcame all of these obstacles and made it to our destination. As we hiked toward the secret bog, the skies opened up, releasing a deluge of rain and hail. Who would expect hail on July 1? All of our hardships were soon forgotten when we saw the thousands of blooms of Showy Ladies'-slipper orchids. Their big fist-sized deep pink and white blooms adorned waist-high leafy stems. They shared their habitat of wet wooded mossy cedar woods with at least ten other species of orchids, one with mosquito-sized flowers. What an awesome and unforgettable wildlife adventure!
Christa McMillan
Sussex Corner
January 1999
grnfrog.gif (3561 bytes)On a visit to Hyla Park (an Amphibian Park) in Fredericton, N.B. this past summer, we spotted a bright blue-cyan colored frog, besides many others. Being a frog lover, this was a very exciting site for me. If anyone knows the name/type of frog this is, could you please let me know! I would highly recommend visiting this park if you are looking for a nice walk where there's a good chance you will see some wildlife up close.
By Cindy Coates
Waterford, N.B.
January 1999

A Children's

The Happy

In a place called Africa, there once lived a hippopotamus called the Happy Hippo. He was called the Happy Hippo because no matter what he was doing he was always smiling. When he awoke in the morning he was smiling. When he ate his breakfast he was smiling. When he want for his daily swim he was smiling. No matter what he was doing or who tried to make him mad or who try to stop him from smiling, the Happy Hippo just, you know, I knew you could quess it, just kept on smiling.

Now you may not know this, but believe it or not, if you are around someone who smiles all the time, the first thing you know you will be smiling too. It is just like a sickness, it moves from person to person or in this case from animal to animal. How do I know this, you try smiling at everyone you meet in a day and see what happens in return.

Back to our story, because the Happy Hippo smiled all the time and at everyone, first thing you knew all the other animals where smiling too. The giraffes, the zebras, and even some of his enemies like the lions and crocodiles, they could not help but smile when the Happy Hippo was around. All the animals liked to be around him, because he made them fell good. It could be raining, he would be smiling. It could be so dry the dirt whirled around in the wind but he would be smiling. That is, until one day.

You know what happened on that day, the darkest day in the history of Africa. The smile of the Happy Hippo tilted, and tilted, and tilted until it turned plum upside down into a frown. All the animals were amazed, their chins dropped, their eyes widened, they just could not believe that their friend the Happy Hippo wasn't smiling any more. They asked each other "Do you know what is wrong?", "Is he sick?, "Who has finally done something to made our friend the Happy Hippo frown?, What can we do to make the Happy Hippo smile again?. Do you have any ideas, on how to make him smile again. It is very, very important to all the other animals that they find a way to make the Happy Hippo, well you know, happy again. Their world just wasn't the some with out the smile of their friend.

Have you any ideas why? Could it be because the Happy Hippo's world was changing, and not for the best. Was it that the people, were taking more and more of the Happy Hippo's favorite places into roads and farms? Was it that is was now harder and harder to find water that was safe to drink? Was it that, many of his friends and family were disappearing for lack of good food?
Can you finish the story?
Let us know what you think would make the Happy Hippo's frown
tilt and tilt and tilt back right side up into a smile.

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