VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tagging along with Dr. Ludwig Siefert, team leader of the Uganda Carnivore Program, in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, I learn what it takes to manage and care for wild lions in a region undergoing tremendous socio-economic change.
From 1764 to 1767, in the historical region of Gévaudan, located in southern France, and in adjacent areas, about one hundred children, youths, and women were killed by a so-called “Beast”. Numerous other humans survived the attacks, many of them seriously injured. The series of attacks has been confirmed by a great variety of historical documents and is not called into question by scientists.
Historians claim that wolves, or a hybrid of a wolf and a domestic dog, had attacked the victims; the “hybrid-assumption” is based on the description of a canid, shot in June 1767, that was said to have strange morphological characteristics. However, a critical evaluation of historical texts, including the publications of the French abbots François Fabre and Pierre Pourcher, revealed that neither this animal, nor any other wolf killed in Gévaudan, had anything to do with the attacks of the Beast.
In this post, German biologist Karl-Hans Taake posits that The Beast was a very different carnivore to a wolf.
© Emmanuel Keller, courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing. Perhaps the most popular pet on Earth, the family cat is a beloved member of countless households. Millions of others abandoned or strayed are flourishing independently outdoors, where they may pose serious threats to birds and other small animals. But as familiar as the house cat is, not many people know it has…