Things we do for love

If there is one aspect about being a game ranger that I don’t like, it has to be the loneliness. As much I would love to use my isolated position in the bush as my reason for being perpetually single, this is sadly not the case. Even when I was surrounded by several million people in the city, I discovered that finding a girl that was interested in me in the urban jungle was even more difficult than finding the fictitious pangolin in the more naturally vegetated one!

I have often wondered what it is that I do wrong, as everyone/thing else in the world seems to get it right and this is seldom more evident than at the start of summer, when the males of a myriad of species in the bush are trying their best to master the art of attracting of their potential mate. I won’t lie, I don’t really watch them because of the often-interesting spectacles that they put on, but instead I sit there fixated on their actions hoping to learn a trick or two that I could use myself!

The problem with this approach is that, while some methods work really well for certain species of animals, I am still not wholly convinced that they work as well on the ladies of the human race. For instance, the male red-crested Korhaan has one of the most spectacular flight displays during the mating season, and will fly almost vertically to a height of around 30m before simply folding his wings back in and plummeting back towards the ground, sneakily breaking back into flight just a few metres before landing in an undignified heap on the ground. Now, on a couple of occasions in my life, I too have gone as far as falling straight towards the ground in front of ladies (usually with the help of a couple of glasses of fine red wine, it must be said) but this approach just doesn’t seem to work? Must be something to do with that undignified heap on the ground, I think?

Some species do courtship dances or use their good looks and bright colours to coax the ladies into giving in to their advances, but there are two inherent flaws in this; if you have ever seen me on the dancefloor, then you will know one of them; and if you have ever just seen me anywhere, you will know the other!

If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that ladies like two things; a “bad boy” image, and glorious gifts. The bad boy image works brilliantly for many species, I mean, who isn’t impressed by the manly swagger that an elephant bull in musthe struts around with (besides me of course, as such elephant bulls have a habit of throwing trees at me, but that is a story for another day!). Lionesses seem to like the most macho of males that show little respect for the lovely ladies, and simply barge in and eat the entire meal that they had worked so hard for, and worst of all, they do so without an utterance of appreciation. And if that is not enough, all these macho men have multiple wives! I sadly, am just too much of a gentleman to pull off such a stunt, and besides, if finding one girlfriend is difficult, I don’t even want to think how near to impossible finding two would be!

Then there are gifts. Surely it can’t be that hard to get a lady something that she likes, to win over her heart? Weaver birds build their wives a house, although I’m sure not too many women I know would be sold on the idea of living in a reed hut that I made using my mouth and feet, however impressive such a feat would be. While other species will provide gifts of food and sparkling treasures, which, I am sure you will agree, will go down well for most women anywhere in the world. But, then there are the dung beetles. Seriously, show me one lady that will be impressed if I present her with a ball of dung? It is quite annoying watching just how many females those male dung beetles can attract by simply finding the foulest pile of poop, slapping it all together and rolling it away to present to a female as a nuptial gift? The only thing I can learn from that is that I have clearly been wasting my time and money on gifts all these years, so I really feel sorry for my friend who’s wedding I am attending on Saturday…I really hope she can find a place for that dung ball on her mantle piece!

Editors note: I can happily report that without falling on his face (to our knowledge) or present balls of dung, Chad has finally found someone very special and is hopelessly in love. The good news is she seems pretty keen on him too.