Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 3rd, 2013
When I left for Africa, stories in the U.S. media were reporting Bigfoot sightings in Oregon, Alaska and even Connecticut. Among the questions I have about Bigfoot is why one never gets accidentally shot during hunting season the way hunters and dogs do. Surely Bigfoot doesn’t wear an orange hunting vest.
Another Bigfoot question: why have such legends not reached Africa? I now know the answer to that one. Africa needs no Bigfoot myths because it already has plenty of the real thing – very large animals with very big feet. I actually saw two African wild dogs drinking water out of a rhinoceros footprint. Bigfoot indeed.
While visiting South Africa with Mike Dorcas, a professor at Davidson College, I heard no stories about the sort of creatures that reside in people’s imagination rather than in the real world. Stories about legendary animals may exist in some parts of Africa, but they are certainly not needed where we were. At least seven species of large mammals that roam wild have been documented as killing people without remorse. When you throw Africa’s large vipers, mambas and cobras into the mix, the I-can-kill-you-if-I-so-choose list passes a dozen.
I was greatly impressed with South Africa. The conservation attitudes in the country are outstanding. Our safari guides were highly trained professionals. And the animals themselves provide the greatest wildlife show on earth.
Meanwhile, if Bigfoot does exist and should happen to visit South Africa, I suggest that he stay inside the vehicle.
Send environmental questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whit Gibbons is an ecologist and environmental educator with the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
Africa may not need Bigfoot, but what about the Spiny-Backed Chimpanzee?