Sep 11, 2009

The Marsh Lions

The Story of an African Pride
by Brian Jackman

This book wasn't what I expected, but I still enjoyed reading it. I thought it was going to be all about one lion pride, and I thought it was going to be about a particular lion pride I'd seen in a tv documentary, that had adapted to hunting buffalo in the water when their marsh flooded during the rainy season. I don't think they are, but I found a website about a BBC documentary that filmed lions in this same area, apparently some years after the events chronicled in the book. In the book, Scar was a young lion in his prime, whereas on the Big Cat Diaries, he is an older lion recently pushed out of the territory by the new males coming in.

The Marsh Lions is more than just a book about lions. It's about the whole panorama of African wildlife living around the Musiara Marsh, on the borders of Kenya and Tanzania. It's the product of five years that Jonathan Scott spent photographing animals in the Masai Mara, keeping detailed notes about their behavior and interactions. He later collaborated with Jackman to have the book written and published. Not only does it tell the story of shifting dynamics among four different lion prides, but that of many other animals as well. Rhino, hippos, elephants, mongoose, zebra and many others are mentioned in the pages. One chapter follows a young wildebeest calf on its first migration journey, another tells of the vain efforts of a cheetah to raise cubs, loosing one litter after another. Yet another part of the book unfolds the story of the last pack of wild dogs to roam through the area, their numbers dwindling down until there's so few left it looks like they might not recover. With descriptive language and accurate details, the reader follows along on a midnight hunt with a hyena clan, circles the skies with the buzzards and vultures, hides in the brush with the reclusive leopard. Unlike most books I've read about African wildlife, this one doesn't have much to say about conservation or how wildlife is affected by humans. Instead, it's simply a broad picture of the animals' lives, accompanied by lots of photographs illustrating the events described.

Rating: 3/5                      224 pages, 1982


Sandy Nawrot said...

My dad went to Tanzania last year. He would love this book! Xmas ideas!

Jenny said...

...Just went and watched the Christian the Lion video again. Still heartwarming!

Jeane said...

Sandy Nawrot- it really is a lovely book. I hope you can find it, I think it might be out of print.

Jenny- such a touching film. I had only seen the one of him in the zoo before, but went and watched some older film bits just now.