Although I am around animals much more than any other time in my life, I have yet to be aquinted with the animals that Africa is best known for, such as the big five (pop quiz - name the five). There have been some sightings here and there from taxis but nothing astounding. I have yet to have the lion showdown or monkey battle Ive been hoping for but there is certainly plenty to see and appreciate. There are occasionally an exotic bird or two and many lizards to enjoy. Even the farm animals hold a certain charm despite their many attempts to irritate me to my breaking point.
The largest reminder that I am a stranger in a strange land (ecosystem-wise) are the arthropods. Really just the spiders and insects but they are legion. For example, I never knew how totally overwhelming ants could be. Almost every morning my host mother is out in the yard raking down the half foot tall ant nests that form over night. I have already mentioned that they can kill baby animals but they also destroy crops and can be torture to anyone unlucky enough to be standing on the ground. This is their land and we humans occasional try to grow tasty things close by or walk near their cities. They are even starting to invade my room. There is a crack in the cement that they have discovered and are coming through. I dripped candle wax to seal the crack but I may have to turn to chemical warfare if they insist on claiming my tiny living quarters as their own.
I have also been fascinated by the dung beetle. What a glorious adaptation, albeit somewhat gross. The dung beetles business is dung and business is booming in my village. So I am all for the beetle that diligently rolls the mess up into little balls and takes it off into the bush. I for one appreciate the effort. Thanks little guy.
There are more examples but the last one I will mention is the praying mantis. I sometimes leave my door open after sunset to cool off my room. The trade off is that the light attracts unwanted pests, so I tried to make a screen to curb the invasion. It is not 100% effective but it helps enough. Anyhow one night the bugs were getting caught in the net and all was fine. Them I heard a loud "thud" against the burglar bars. The biggest praying mantis Ive ever seen came for a meal. She had plenty of trapped moths and flies to easily devour and was doing a fine job of clearing the net. I looked up the praying mantis on wikipedia out of interest and it told me that they were considered gods of the Khoi and San people who are some of the most ancient peoples on Earth. There are still some that live nearby and in Namibia and Botswana. At one time they may have even lived in this same area that I live and breath in now. I feel proud to have given offering even if it was only incidental.