|The safari car at Inverdoorn Game Reserve|
Over the past few weeks, you’ve heard a lot about our recent meetings and world travels in Berlin, Germany and Cape Town, South Africa. The BHL-Europe, BHL-Global, and BHL-Africa meetings were incredibly productive, paving the way for the future development of both the existing global BHL network as well as the inception of a new BHL node in sub-Saharan Africa. As you can imagine, such meetings, though undeniably rewarding, also require quite a bit of work, so the final weekend of our escapades, we decided it was time to “play” and, in true BHL spirit, explore the country’s wildlife in person, through a safari at Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Safari Lodge.
As BHL employees, we naturally saw our experience through the lens of the biodiversity literature held in our digital collection and recognized many species immediately from illustrations we’d seen in BHL. On returning to our “regular” lives, we found that one book in particular served as a vivid reminder of our great adventure: Johnson’s Household Book of Nature (1880), edited by Hugh Craig.
Johnson’s Book of Nature is intended for the general public, presenting information not in technical scientific language but in everyday terms. It is the illustrations, however, that truly distinguish this work. The editor, Hugh Craig, eloquently wrote,
To the attractiveness of this work the numerous beautifully-colored plates with which it is illustrated contribute in no ordinary degree. The designs are original and have been prepared at unusual expense. They represent in a more vivid and striking way than mere words can depict, the shape, the habits and the habitations of the animals, as well as the colors with which Nature has adorned them and the attitudes which most distinctly characterize them.
There are innumerable ways to explore nature, from books and illustrations to photographs and, best of all, personal interaction. Our BHL group was lucky to experience Africa on a multitude of levels, and we’re thrilled to share that opportunity with you!
|BHL Staff on Safari! Back Row, Left to Right: Martin Kalfatovic, Doug Holland, William Ulate. Front Row, Left to Right: Grace Costantino, Christine Giannoni|
Wildebeest and Common Eland
|Wildebeest (Top) and Common Eland (Bottom)|
|Wildebeest at Inverdoorn|
|Common Eland at Inverdoorn|
There are three recognized species of zebra, with many subspecies. We saw Plains Zebras on our safari. Though closely related to the horse, Alex told us that, as zebras lack significant stamina and have weak backs, they have never been truly domesticated.
|Plains Zebra at Inverdoorn|
The word impala comes from the Zulu language, meaning “gazelle.” Their populations are estimated to be near 2 million in Africa. It was the only ungulate we saw on our safari that is not pictured in Johnson’s Book of Nature, but it was so lovely that we couldn’t resist including its picture here.
|Impala at Inverdoorn|
|Springbok (Top Right)|
|Cape Buffalo (Top)|
Cape Buffalo can reach lengths of 5-11 ft and weights of up to 2,000 lbs. Unpredictable, they can be dangerous to humans, but the group we saw on safari were clearly used to being observed and all but ignored us.
|Cape Buffalo at Inverdoorn|
The most surprising characteristic of the giraffes we encountered was the grace with which they run, despite their absurdly-long necks. The male giraffe pictured in this photograph was particularly dark due to high levels of testosterone.
|Giraffe at Inverdoorn|
|White Rhinoceros (Top)|
White Rhinoceros, also known as square-lipped rhinoceros, are endangered, being hunted maliciously for their horns, which are sold on the black market for use in Chinese medicine. The horns of the rhinoceros at Inverdoorn were all tagged and poisoned, making them unattractive to potential poachers. Inverdoorn has three rhinos: a male, female, and their calf. The female rhinoceros’ horn has been preemptively removed to save her from poaching, but the act has made her somewhat ill-tempered. Alex told us she has a history of charging vehicles. Fortunately for us, she seemed to be in a good mood during our visit.
|Male White Rhinoceros at Inverdoorn|
The name hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse.” It is the third-largest land mammal and is terribly aggressive, being considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Near water sources with hippo populations, there are signs reading “No Boats: Hippos Present.”
|Hippos at Inverdoorn|
|African Lion (Top)|
|Female Lion at Inverdoorn|
|Male Lion at Inverdoorn|
|Cheetah (Bottom Left)|
|Cheetahs at Inverdoorn|
Pictures by Grace Costantino and Martin Kalfatovic