Every year on 9 August, South Africa takes time to recognise the role of women in South Africa’s historical struggles, as well as the important role they play in powering our society. At Thornybush, we support and celebrate the ladies among us every day.
In conservation, women have often played an integral role in bringing animal struggles to the world stage. Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai and Dian Fossey are world-famous for their efforts, but there are thousands of other women actively working in conservation, albeit way out of the limelight.
Not only are women instrumental in keeping our South African safari operations running smoothly, and wowing our guests, but many of the things they do happen quietly behind the scenes. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by powerful, charming, competent women both in camp and out in the bush.
While males generally dominate in the natural environment, there are a few instances where the ladies call the shots out in the African bush.
The first creature that springs to mind is the original man-eater, the praying mantis. The females are much larger than the males. While they don’t usually act aggressively towards males, they can (and will) snap off their suitor’s head and eat their corpse if the mood strikes them after mating.
Bees, termites and ants are well-known for holding the female of the species in high regard. Their entire lives are centred on protecting and nurturing one queen. These divas do nothing except enjoy the hand-and-foot waitering attentions of their colonies, repaying them with generation upon generation of offspring in return.
On the other end of the scale, lionesses rule the roost in the pride. Although lions are granted a certain deference in pride life, the females could quite easily survive without the males outside of mating season. With the ladies in their lives, the male lion’s existence is fraught with hardship. Lionesses are well-known for doing most of the hunting, but they also determine the movements of the pride and will defend their kin with tooth and nail if needed.
Likewise, elephant herds consist entirely of females and their offspring. When the males reach maturity, they wander off to lead the bachelor life. Family life is led by the oldest female in the pack, who teaches her juniors the ways of the wild, determines the herd movements, and is instrumental in problem-solving.
Similarly, female spotted hyenas dominate pack life. They’re larger and stronger than the males and will lead the charge in times of conflict as well as when hunting. Come dinner time, the pecking order is determined by social standing, which means the males get the scraps.
Get in touch today to book your South African safari with Thornybush, and you too will get to appreciate the beauty, grace, and power of women in the wild.