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Found 2 results

  1. ~ In the interest of diversity, the above links are provided with information about Ictonyx striatus, Zorilla, or Striped Polecat. They include assertions that Zorillas are the “world's smelliest animal” and reactions to a Zorilla appearing as a guest on a U.S. television talk show. Most surprisingly, a developer of on-line learn-to-read material for children has released “Zoey the Zorilla” telling of the cross-African travels of a displaced Zorilla with friends Lenny the Lycaon and Germain the Giraffe. Who knew? Tom K.
  2. Why Zorillas? ~ When I joined Safaritalk last year, it was my first-ever experience with social media. It never occurred to me to choose a nom de guerre, therefore I used my own name. Had I been more astute, I would have selected the user name ‘Zorilla’. As many Safaritalk members and regular visitors know, I'm very partial to Ictonyx striatus, the Striped Polecat or Zorilla. So much so that on every game drive I carry a neatly folded U.S. $100 bill to reward any guide/ranger who might ever facilitate a reasonably clear photograph of a Zorilla in the wild. Do I ever expect to pay out that prize for a Zorilla sighting? No. In all candor, I have next to no expectation of ever actually observing, let alone photographing a Zorilla, but feel the need to be prepared on every game drive for the improbable eventuality of a Zorilla sighting. Then...why Zorillas? As a species, they're not at the top of anyone's list of “Most...” or “Nicest...” or “Best...” anything, aside from perhaps the most odoriferous defense against predators, their notorious anal gland stink-spray. Not exactly a charming attribute by any standard. Zorillas aren't in any sense rare or endangered. They're well-known to long-haul truck drivers in Africa who frequently see their carcasses as road-kill. I've talked with researchers who've observed Zorillas in farthest southeastern Egypt and near the Atlantic coast of Mauritania. What fascinates me is that while Ictonyx striatus is a fairly common, even ordinary species, the fact remains that it's seldom photographed in the wild. Nocturnal, solitary and peripatetic, their characteristic fast trot in darkness is such that they're one of the least accommodating subjects for safari photography. Such comparable nocturnal species as honey badgers, porcupines, pangolins and aardvarks have a certain cachet due to their relative scarcity and intriguing lifestyles. By contrast, Zorillas are typically overlooked despite the striking beauty of their white-striped black coats. What I find delightful about Zorillas is that they're ubiquitous yet remain unobserved. My head shakes and I grin at the thought of an organism which exists over a very wide range yet manages to remain little more than an illustration in field guides with a name resembling ‘gorilla’. Our late friend Nancy Money, @@graceland, was exceptionally kind to me when I joined Safaritalk but had difficulty finding my bearings. In on-line posts and in private messages we shared our common perception that safaris were healing. Life's vicissitudes, petty cruelties, setbacks, disappointments and frustrations bruise the soul in ways seen and unseen. Heading out into nature with each game drive an encounter with the unknown is therapeutic, connecting one's heart with life's deepest rhythms. The unseen Zorilla is part and parcel of the healing mystique of safaris for me. I love the reality that Zorillas will almost certainly remain unseen by me, no matter how often I visit Africa or where I go. I admire an animal whose presence can't be bought, which eludes even the most seasoned wildlife observers, going about the business of survival away from peering eyes and intrusive camera lenses. As much as I'd be thrilled to observe and photograph a Zorilla, I'm happy that they remain largely beyond routine observation, such that any Zorilla sighting is truly a special event. Not every species needs to be relentlessly observed. Privacy and a solitary lifestyle make very good sense, as that's what I'd like, despite working and living in one of the globe's largest, most crowded metropolises. If any Safaritalk members photograph and post images of Zorillas I'll rejoice at their good fortune. As for myself, I'll savor having a favorite species which remains out-of-reach, scurrying through each deep night, leaving few traces of its ever having been there.

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