Humans have done a lot of exploring and experimenting over the last couple of centuries and have evolved rapidly to become the dominant species of the world. Today we take a look at the bizarre practices people came up with by using animals for the strangest things.
Many years ago, when technology wasn’t as sophisticated, women used other ways to determine whether or not they were pregnant. In the early 1930’s the African Clawed Frog or Common Platanna of the Xenopus genus, was used to break the news of a baby on the way. These frogs were injected with the urine of a woman and would ovulate if a woman is indeed pregnant! After this astonishing discovery, frogs were exported across the world to be used in this manner. The success did not last however, as it was realised that these amphibians were carriers of a deadly fungus which would spread and kill thousands of other frogs across the globe! Luckily, we have come up with better solutions and Platannas remain protected in natural areas such as Sabi Sabi.
Civets are omnivorous, nocturnal creatures occasionally seen on our evening safaris. They are often referred to as “Civet cats” but are not related to cats at all and rather belong to the family Viverridae which they share with genets.
These creatures are unique in many ways and thus have been used by humans in multiple manners as well! The African Civet can release a foul-smelling liquid if threatened in attempt to protect itself. It also marks its territory by a practice called “anal pasting” where they excrete a strong substance on smooth surfaces such as rocks or tree trunks. These pastings can be smelt for weeks even after the rains! For this reason, people started harvesting the pastings for perfume purposes. It is called “Civetone” and is even used today in creating a longer-lasting smell together with its unique musky scent which apparently with age has floral notes! The most expensive coffee in the word, called Kopi Luwak, is produced from partially digested coffee berries excreted by the Asian Palm Civet. Unfortunately, people have used civets in an unnatural and unethical way instead of nurturing these resources sustainably, without harming these unique animals.
Moving on to more local and traditional uses, the Shangaan people believe that if you have sinus problems or a common cold, there is a quick fix. It is said that if you burn dried out hippo or elephant dung and inhale the smoke, it will heal your sickness! At least no animals are harmed here!
Some animals simply can’t be tamed. Zebra might belong to the same family as horses (Equidae) but are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to domesticate. People have tried to use these striped animals in the construction of railway lines to carry building material but were unsuccessful. Let’s keep Zebras where they belong shall we… in the wild!
Nature is beyond special and has a lot to offer. Everything is interconnected! The answer is to protect it and use it sustainably. After all, she is our past, present and future.