Take Me On A Safari A Family Affair by Anthony Mauro by Anthony Mauro - Read Online

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A compelling and one of a kind chronicle of a husband, wife, their teenage son, young daughter, and "grand mom" on safari in rural South Africa. This is the unforgettable memoir of the Mauro family, swept from their daily routines in suburbia U.S.A. and thrust into the center of adventure, drama and suspense in a remote corner of the Dark Continent. The experience strengthened family bonds, exposed them to the wonders of an ancient land and laid witness the timeless rituals of wildlife. This uniquely written account also includes the unedited thoughts of family members as taken from their diaries.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611603798
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TAKE ME ON A SAFARI: A FAMILY AFFAIR

by

ANTHONY P. MAURO, Sr

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Published by

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

Whiskey Creek Press

PO Box 51052

Casper, WY 82605-1052

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Copyright Ó Anthony P. Mauro, Sr

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-61160379-8

Cover Artist: Harris Channing

Editor:Marsha Briscoe

Printed in the United States of America

Dedication

To my wife and best friend Carol whose love, support and companionship has anchored my life.

To Anthony, Jr. and Victoria for filling our home with love, joy, pride, energy and humor. You are each truly a blessing. Remember these words…  We can let our achievements forever leave an imprint on this world, or we can simply walk the sands of time leaving footprints to be washed away with the changing tide.

To my mother-in-law Marion, whose intrepid soul is an inspiration to all.

Introduction

I like to think of Take Me on Safari as more than a chronological accounting of my family’s safari to the rural Northern Province of South Africa. To me, my wife, my fourteen-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter, and my seventy-three-year-old mother-in-law, the safari was a forum that shook us from the sleepiness of our daily routines and exposed us to the adventure, drama and suspense of big-game hunting. It was a way for us to replace the all-too-familiar landscapes of our lives with the wonders of an ancient land while providing an observation post from which to witness the timeless rituals of wildlife. Most importantly, though, the safari was a catalyst that deepened the bonds of our family and supported the values and ethics my wife Carol and I hold dear and have raised our children with for more than fourteen years.

I realize that there may be many who wonder how a safari could possibly enrich family spirituality or reinforce long-held values and at the same time provide an advanced course in ethics, but then I suppose the word safari conjures up different perceptions for different people.

To some the word may provoke images from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, where hundreds of native porters walked in single file, carrying vital supplies to support a yearlong journey into the remote corners of Africa. These images may have been gleaned from books or movies such as Out of Africa, or the study of our nation’s very own adventurer President Theodore Roosevelt.

For others the mention of safari may inspire less romantic images and simply symbolize an outdated era of faded icons. Perhaps a perception of odd-looking animal heads adorning walls of Men Only clubs. The word may even stir mental pictures of establishments frequented by the unenlightened as they gathered to drink whiskey and performed antiquated male-bonding rituals in rooms polluted with cigar smoke and boorish behavior.

I won’t attempt to argue against these perceptions. They might be accurate portraits of a distant past, or merely an association with the celluloid folklore of Hollywood movie making fame. There is plenty of room in our universe for people to entertain all their perceptions of safari, and far be it from me to deny them.

It would be an injustice though if I didn’t take the opportunity to explain what a safari was for my family and for many of those that have journeyed before us, for they too saw the safari as something much less than an arena for machismo and understood that it was truly a voyage for the soul. It is because of a need to share this truth as evidenced by my family’s experience that I felt compelled to write this book.

Those that have enlisted the event know that a safari brings us within proximity to reasonably glimpse the life of primitive man. It is a way to transport oneself as far as possible from the information-driven and overregulated new age in which we live to the stark, uninhibited and impulsive ways of ever-present wildlife. It moves us from a reality defined by the pillars of logic to a place where instinct governs survival and has done so since the dawn of time.

A safari tests the mettle of one’s character. It is an experience created by a wide variety of thoughts and emotions ranging from fatigue, boredom, disappointment, fear and sadness to understanding, euphoria, pride, awe, excitement and surprise—all of which are called upon randomly and at a moment’s notice. A safari elicits respect, appreciation and concern for wildlife and a profound awareness of our responsibility to perpetuate it for posterity.

My family and I now realize that a safari is an education of sorts. It is a humbling experience that overwhelms one with their insignificance, as we become spectator to the mysteries of our universe, and yet on another level, an innate understanding that we are a vital weave in its fabric consoles us. In a way a safari is a religious experience—it is as simple as living a humble life of faith while at the same time it is as awesomely complex to comprehend as all that is holy.

It would be of great satisfaction to me if my modest attempt at writing would inspire families, hunters, and observers to visit Africa and to take an interest in its future. In my opinion it is a continent that needs to be understood in order for it to survive as it is meant to be—an archaeological testimony to the ways of time immemorial and a display of intricate patterns and interdependencies of the world’s ecosystems.

On a less majestic note, I also wrote the book with the intent to increase the level of awareness of the elements of sport hunting, and as a diagram of the critical relationship between the sport and the way in which it ensures the future survival of wildlife populations. I’ve tried to highlight the need for wildlife management practices and present the economic realities of hunting and the importance of fair chase in a way that’s easily understood and is offered as a natural extension of the chronicle.

I have also made an attempt to display the need for conservation of resources and to promote moral and ethical decision making by portraying the important benefits of these virtues. Although it is not a how to book it does provide a path for anyone looking to take his or her family on safari—or even go it alone for that matter.

I might never know if I have been successful in my endeavor but it will bring great satisfaction to me if even one person is moved to let go of their perception of a safari as one of the stale images I portrayed earlier and replace it with something closer to which I have detailed throughout the book. I am eternally grateful to those who helped make my family’s safari the moving experience that it was.

Chapter 1: Family Matters

If anyone has a desire to live, where living is really full-blooded living, let him go and spend some of his time among wild animal life—far away from the insidious comforts and the petty restraints of life in a civilized community.

—James Sutherland, The African Adventures

Uuuugh. This sound was brought on by my slightly dumbfounded mind and slowly swept over my lips in a bid to buy some time to think. It was a perfectly normal reaction; I was trying to secure a moment to absorb my wife’s response to the brilliant proposal I had just made to her. I could feel the momentum of my presentation quickly losing its stride and felt a sense of urgency coming over me to prevent losing any precious inroads I made.

It wasn’t such a bizarre plan I had presented but was one that, should I say, complicated our finances a little, to put it mildly. It’s not so much that we couldn’t afford it although it was a bit pricey, but the valid point my wife Carol was making was that my proposal necessitated an expenditure that was a large departure from the equitable way we had spent money on ourselves up to this point in our seventeen-year marriage.

Well? she asked, looking at me with expectancy. My noncommittal response had worked and bought me the freedom to quickly consider the financial consequences of her unexpected reaction. Of course, I’ll take you with me on safari, I replied.

It was a fact that I would prefer no one to join me on safari except for Carol. True, Carol’s not a hunter and this was part of the reason her response Take me on safari was so dumbfounding. The truth is I wanted her to come but never thought she would be interested. After all, this was a big-game hunting safari I was planning, not some photographic safari with plush accommodations.

Her response was no longer an issue now. My enthusiasm had now spread to Carol and I was ecstatic. I talked with her about what big-game safari hunting entailed, disclosed some of the details about trophy fees, airfare and other costs involved and showed her pictures of the animals I wanted to hunt. She listened intently and asked questions as she envisioned our journey together.

At this time I couldn’t answer all of her questions, though, because I still had a lot of issues to resolve. I had to find an outfitter, decide on the country and other details along those lines. I had read enough books, though, to have a good idea of where to begin my search and felt comfortable that I could network to the most appropriate destination.

I was getting great satisfaction that my out-of-the-blue proposal had left its mark on Carol and was basking in the glory when it dawned on me there remained a considerable logistics challenge—the kids. Where would they spend their time as Carol and I went on our two-week expedition? We looked at each other and began grasping for solutions. Maybe my mother could care for them, I said. Or mine, replied Carol. As I thought more about it, though, it didn’t feel right to leave them behind. We were going on what could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime journey and there was something bothering me about leaving behind my fourteen-year-old son, Anthony, Jr., and twelve-year-old daughter, Tori.

Why don’t we take the kids with us? I said. It didn’t take long for us to agree that bringing them along would be an experience of a lifetime and a broadening of their world perspective, unparalleled by anything that they could learn in the classroom. So that evening over dinner I casually mentioned to the kids that their mother and I would be going on a safari.

What? they asked in unison. I repeated my statement with the same low-key approach, and as it began to sink into their sponge-like minds my son was first to say, Take me on safari. Not wanting to be left out, my daughter followed with, Me too.

The kids were excited and asked more questions than I could field as they trampled on each other’s sentences. I enjoyed their enthusiasm and I sorted out their queries and gave answers while they interrupted with new questions. Yes, everything was coming together and better than I ever imagined. I was going to be able to combine the two things that mattered most to me: big-game hunting in Africa and being surrounded by my family (I best add not exactly in that order). My family has always been the most important thing in my adult life and it was becoming clearer that the safari experience would be an excellent way for us to grow together.

Family relationships are dynamic and constantly evolving—especially when you have children. As the kids mature from one stage to the next, so too do our relationships with them. So I felt the safari was a great way to draw everyone closer together and to share one common and exciting experience.

I knew there would be some people outside the family that would not necessarily see the benefits of a family safari the same way that I did. So I offered up the following opinions to the doubting Thomases of the world. Firstly, I pointed out that hunting was one of the oldest activities known to man. Let’s face it, our most primitive ancestor probably invented hunting, ooohhh, about a nanosecond after his first hunger pang struck.

Also, I added that although hunting may have been born from the need to survive, any hunter worth his salt knew that it is an honest sport. It teaches responsibility, exposes us suburbanites to the beauty of nature, encourages ethical behavior and drives home the concept of conservation—especially the need for game management. Now I don’t pretend to be a social scientist, I’d say, but based on this it seems to me that our society might be a lot better off if everyone took up the sport. I don’t know how many people I truly convinced but it really didn’t make that much of a difference to me. My family and I knew the benefits, and that’s all that counted.

When you get right down to it, what else can a parent and their kid do together that teaches such a profound appreciation of nature while creating an ideal opportunity for bonding? As a hunting team we overcome the difficulty of terrain, weather, fatigue and all the while having to pit our pathetic wit against the incredibly acute senses that wildlife possesses. It is physically healthy, mentally challenging and provides a necessary service for ensuring an ecological balance in our world.

Sport hunting is not a spectator sport; it involves both the parent and his or her son or daughter. There’s no dropping the kids off at practice while we tend to other chores and then watch them play on weekends—hunting is a participation sport. We teach them, we hunt with them, and we learn from each other. Our children learn responsibility, are taught to respect wildlife and the environment, build character while facing adverse conditions, and—most important of all—they get to spend quality time with their parents. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

I also believe that it is more than just pure coincidence that the word safari is Swahili for journey. From my perspective the word not only defines the physical journey of traveling from point A to point B but also a spiritual passage. The culture of Africa is as old as man himself and is profoundly marked by spiritual journeys. This is something I wanted to experience with my family.

It is true that the emotional thinking and wrongheaded views of TV personalities and newspapers bombard us, but the folly of their positions certainly doesn’t change the facts about the virtues of hunting. I’m sure the irony is lost on these well-intentioned folks as they discuss their anti-hunting opinions while dining on steak, filet mignon, lamb chops, Long Island duck, veal piccata… I’m sure you get my point.

What’s odd to me is that these people don’t see that each time they visit their local market to buy beef, chicken, pork or any other fish, fowl or meat product they are actually subsidizing, authorizing and perpetuating the slaughter of animals. These are animals that are bred for the sole purpose of feeding the masses. When viewed against this simple truth it’s obvious that hunting is a moral and ethical substitute to shopping at the supermarket. After all, we get up at godforsaken hours, endure some of the most extreme weather conditions imaginable and put our bodies through challenging endurance tests—all the while being guaranteed nothing at the end of the day.

I think Teddy Roosevelt summed it most pragmatically in the 1908 accounting he gave of his yearlong safari with his son Kermit. "Death by violence, death by cold, death by starvation—these are normal endings of the stately and beautiful creatures of the wilderness. The sentimentalists who prattle about the peaceful life of nature do not realize its utter mercilessness; although all they would have to do would be to look at the birds in the winter woods, or even at the insects on a cold morning or cold evening. Life is hard and cruel for all lower creatures,