“In the nineteen-fifties, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I lived for some years among the Juwa and Gikme Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. I went there with my parents, Laurence and Lorna Marshall, and my brother, John, to record the Bushmen’s way of life. My own interest was in the lions (leopology, I liked to say), but I had little time to pursue that interest in those busy days. Under any circumstances, though, lions are hard to ignore, so I was able to glean some data on them.
When I returned to the Kalahari in the mid-eighties, it was apparent to me that the people had changed greatly, and that the lions had changed even more. Where there had been one lion population, there were two, and they were as different from each other as they were from the population I had known. All this happened in just thirty years, or, from a lion’s point of view, less than three lifetimes.”
The article below was printed in The New Yorker magazine on October 15, 1990.
“To some this story might seem incredible, so it’s fortunate that the event was well documented. My brother, a filmmaker, had a loaded camera with him and filmed everything.”
I find this article to be one of the more fascinating accounts of animal behavior I’ve ever read. All the stories are amazing, but one, involving the relationship between the lions and the Bushmen, particularly stands out. (“To some this story might seem incredible, so it’s fortunate that the event was well documented. My brother, a filmmaker, had a loaded camera with him and filmed everything.”) You can start reading at the top of Page 81. For a little more background, you can start at the top right column on Page 80. (“Although the people of the Kalahari….”)