The following is part of a top ten list written originally for The Times (London) by Richard Conniff from his new book Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals (W.W. Norton).
In Botswana, I stayed at a camp where a biologist studied African wild dogs. The location was perfect, sheltered within a stand of trees looking out onto the Okavango Delta floodplains. There was a big tent, fenced in on two sides with bamboo, for the kitchen and dining area. The shower, supplied by a black barrel on a platform, stood in the open on the edge of camp. A previous guest had been showering there one time during a drought when he heard a slurping sound from the other side of the bamboo screen. It was a thirsty lion, which soon came around to the shower side, causing the guest to run naked and screaming through camp. I pitched my tent off on my own and went to sleep that night to the sound of lions growling not too far away, a fathomless bellow which deepened and grew louder until my eardrums rang, then died back down into a sort of bubbling, throaty, airplane-propeller backwash. Next day, the biologist wanted to prove to me that African wild dogs are not the ferocious man-killers of lore. So as we were following a pack of hungry dogs in the interlude between hunts, he said, “See for yourself. Get out of the vehicle.” I sat down on the ground and two dogs immediately circled around to approach me from behind, the jagged edges of their carnassial teeth glinting in the sunlight.“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”