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Friday, 28 August 2009

All Souls Night


File:Mother lion and cubs.jpg

Tears in the rain

for the sickly lioness with AIDS

and her scrawny, starving cubs

the final understanding too late


emotional need to affiliate

with the rest of the living world

as it disappears

vs. shrinkage of nature everyday abetted

by cognitive disconnection


sprawled asleep sleek

silky & fat as the night jungle

maybe the last

big cats would make better gods

& goddesses

than men & women

by the shores of the lakes

of Africa

emaciated and covered with living sores

File:Maneless lion from Tsavo East National Park.png

Mother lion and cubs, Kenya: photo by Sam Stearman, 2004

Maneless male lion, Tsavo East National Park, Kenya: photo by Mgiganteus, 2007


~otto~ said...

Lions with AIDS ... never thought of that

TC said...


There is considerable debate over what has caused the lion populations of Africa to dwindle from c. 400.000 in 1950 to c. 200.000 in 1980 to perhaps 15,000 at present.

Trophy hunting by humans and habitat loss are big factors. As the local populations decrease, prides are smaller and more isolated, inbreeding occurs and genetic damage results. (The maneless lion in the lower image is an example of the latter.)

Just what role immunodeficiency viruses are playing in this rapid species demise is still under study. The closest investigation has occurred in Botswana, where human HIV has been widespread and catastrophic.

Two researchers, Kate Nicholls and Pieter Kat, working in Botswana, reported on this in 2003.

Immunodeficiency viruses and lion extinction

An excerpt from that story on their findings:

"AIDS is not just killing millions of people in Africa; there is growing concern it is also killing lions and driving the king of the jungle to the brink of extinction.

"With scientists reporting a devastating collapse of the African lion population from 230,000 in 1980 to fewer than 20,000 now, the decline has traditionally been blamed on loss of natural habitat and hunting.

"But advances in virology and ground-breaking field research suggest many lions could be dying from AIDS because their immune system has been destroyed by lion lentivirus, the lion version of HIV."

Not too surprisingly, big-game hunting groups have continued to protest all reports of encroaching lion extinction. They claim that there are way too many lions around and that killing them off is doing everybody a great favor.

Humancentrism is perhaps the scariest ideology of all.

Anonymous said...

"..big cats would make better gods and godesses than men and women...".
True. They have the requisite beauty and grace and that deachment that is mistaken for cruelty.

Just popped over to say hello and inquire after your well-being.

Things alright, I hope? I've left off harassing trout..give them a chance to re-populate before Mishari, Scourge of Fish descends on them again.

Regards, Mishari

TC said...


Excellent to hear from you. And though Nature may abhor a vacuum, she seems to have stood off respectfully from yours, so that your refreshed return may bless with that much greater joy your adoring legions...

So did Pongo survive and thrive, I hope, amidst the Catalunian Adventure?

Couldn't agree more with your comments about the big cats. Even the not so big ones for that matter. Speaking of standing off, felines as a class have an admirable way of doing that. It's always bracing to be reminded this is not exclusively Our World. Though perhaps when the lions and tigers and elephants and gorillas and chimps (et al.) have finally been excluded from the planet for good and all, we will have a chance to get a better look at Our World, with all the grace and beauty and otherness gone, leaving only our schemes and plans for making that World appear ever more a mirror of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

"...leaving only our schemes and plans for making that World appear ever more a mirror of ourselves."

Christ, Tom...there's a prospect to send my into my boots. Let's hope there's a world-wide outbreak of sanity sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Whatever is killing them, it has been caused by man. This has made me very sad...

TC said...

Mish, Lucy,

Yes, it's an elegiac understanding, but I think we share it, this regret over the prospect of losing and yet this desire against all odds to somehow save

Another Way of Looking at the World

Mariana Soffer said...

Excelent post tom, excelent indeed.
This post, specially the part that says that jungle felines evendough not at their best shape should be the kings, and it is true I say. I awfully angry with society right now, because all this animal print dressing trend that resucitates once in a while. Something should be done to the people who where thata. Here is an exepert of an article about them, so you can apreciate the supidity level of their brains

"nimal prints in fashion are nothing new. (Of course, these days, prints are more often faux than not.) Leopard print goes in and out of vogue but is always a staple for gals who want to add a subtle hint of glamor to their outfit as well as gals who want to turn every head in the room.

For a more subtle approach, a leopard print belt, scarf, or bangle might do the trick. And of course there are endless choices for any gal who wants to don a pair of leopard pumps.

The bolder fashionista might try a leopard coat or jacket, top, or trousers.

And the outrageous extroverts among us could go head to toe leopard!

Leopard print is a bold look which can sometimes go wrong.. but the look is here to stay"

two neurons at most they have. Kill the trend.

TC said...


I could not more emphatically share your sentiments about the mind-bogglingly disgusting "safari style trend".

Apparently all it takes is two neurons scratching together in the dark to create the autistic vanity of a fashionista... and to terminate a species.

A quick search of a few of the many sicko "Indie" fashionista gore-palace sites made things plain for me straight away:

"This season, whether real or faux, exotic animal skins have been seen on many fashion accessories ..."

I wanted to reach for one of those airline gag-bags after ten seconds.

After all your great work on articulating the possibilities of the human mind, this sort of thing must depress you terribly.

Welcome to humanworld, the style show of universal extinction!

Elmo St. Rose said...

Maimonides, paraphrased, said that:
when a wild beast enters a human
habitation that it is a visitation.

I'm not sure if he meant that in
a divine sense however if a retrovirus can humble and deplete
the king of beasts as well as it
has then humancentrism has a lot
more work to do than it thinks
it has.

TC said...


Two hours with my head in The Guide for the Perplexed left me... shall we say perplexed, on the subject of Maimonides' views re. wild animals, animal sacrifices, blood-offerings, and all that good old-fashioned legal stuff. The laws confused me and the applications of the various degrees of punishment for transgression--beheading, strangling, etc.--did not help in clearing the head.

Burying the sacrificial victims in dust so that the blood may not be consumed in public is probably not a rubric motivated by respect for the victims so much as for keeping the disciples in line, and the Hindus and Egyptians seem the object of much of the animal slaughter rubric--that is, whatever the Hindus and Egyptians do, do the opposite, or else.

The chapter and verse on animal visitation and habitation however has so far eluded me, but as I have a weak stomach these days for blood ritual and the laws thereof, I think I'll hold off on forming an opinion until further advised by one who knows more...

Until then I'll be thinking about Tippi Hedren and her big cat rescue jungle, now that's the kind of law I like--though of course Tippi wasn't laying down the laws for anybody, just following her sweet empathetic little human heart. That I don't find at all confusing, inspiring rather...

Elmo St. Rose said...

My thought was that the wild
was considered beyond the usual
templates from which Maimonides
derived his reasoning and the limits of his physician capacity.
Just as Tippi Hedren found herself
surrounded by all those birds at
Bodega Bay in the movie The Birds.

TC said...


I always felt Tippi's participation as object of Hitchcock's sicko fantasies should be filed under the heading of what a girl has to do to bring in a paycheck. The blatant textbook Freudian displacement mechanism of The Birds, a twisted perversion of the natural, lately annoys me all the more because it has provided career shtick for that king of the pop philosophes and darling of academe, Zizek, whose charlatanry owes much to that movie.

As to something closer to reality, in case anyone but you and me is reading this perhaps there would be some interest in knowing that in 1972 TH founded the Shambala wild animal preserve in Acton, California, 10 miles southwest of Palmdale in the California desert. It continues to be maintained as a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization, providing sanctuary and care for endangered exotic big cats including African lions, Siberian tigers and Bengal tigers, leopards, servals, mountain lions, bobcats, plus a lynx, a Florida panther, and a liger.

Most of the animals at Shambala were either born in captivity, orphans or no longer wanted at circuses, zoos or are given up by private owners who could no longer care for them. The animals are not wild and are human dependent for their needs. Shambala provides expert veterinarians for their ongoing care.