Hyena nights Kalahari days
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Hyenas have a bad reputation and are misunderstood by most people. Until recent years many wildlife publications used words like freak, stupid, demented and ungainly to describe hyenas, but in this book Gus and Margie Mills allow the reader to see these intriguing animals for what they really are: intelligent, powerful, even beautiful. Gus and Margie Mills, newly married, trekked to the Kalahari to spend two years studying the little-known brown hyena. They were so enchanted by these captivating animals that they ended up stayed for 12 years and uncovering a treasure trove of facts about the lives of both brown and spotted hyenas. Their studies allowed them to get to know the hyena clans and their hierarchies intimately and became privy to events which only a handful of people have ever had the privilege to witness. By studying the complex relationship between these predators and their prey they have been able to separate the myths from the reality. In so doing, they have uncovered the significance of hyena behaviour within the larger sphere of the Kalahari ecosystem. The greatest risk to hyenas has always been the Kalahari land-owners and wildlife managers. The Millsâ€™ research has vastly improved this often tenuous relationship, allowing man and carnivore to more peacefully co-exist. While Gus tells the story of their endlessly fascinating research in the first half of the book, Margie fills in the details of the daily challenges of living in this remote area in the second half. Not only did they have to contend with the isolation of their Kalahari camp, 420 kilometres from the nearest town, but also with the challenges of raising their children in this semi-desert thirstland. Unencumbered by modern conveniences like air conditioners during the searing heat of summer, and heaters during the bitter chill of winter, Margie lays out both the problems and the pleasures of a life lived in this stark wilderness.
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