Thursday, 19 November 2009

Daughter Number One’s husband’s cat

Roz lives in a house half a furlong from a beach washed by the Indian Ocean in subtropical South Africa. In the garden, which still has trees from the original forest that stretched along the coast of KwaZulu Natal, Paul has built her a studio where she paints. Her work, increasingly on African themes, has been exhibited in Durban, London and Berlin: you can see some of it on her website.

Paul spends a lot of time "gallivanting off through the bush", as I put it in the earlier post. He is now close to getting his MSc for which his dissertation will be Implementing a Monitoring and Management System in the Imfolozi National Park. This park lies in the north east of the country close to the border with Mozambique: over the last two decades he has led many treks into the wilderness part of the park where there are no roads and into which you must carry everything that you are going to need for eating and sleeping. For the work he now does for his dissertation he travels on dirt roads on his motorbike.

The astonishing pictures at the head of this post were taken by a woman who just happened to be in her car parked by the side of the road when Paul passed her. She was just taking a photo of the big cat from the safety of her car when she saw it bound off after the motorbike: the acceleration of these creatures is faster than that of any wheeled vehicle.

Jane Ferraris was able to take other photos of what happened next. Paul had glimpsed what was happening in his rear view mirror and thought he was being pursued not by a lion but by a cheetah, which he knew had never attacked a human without provocation. The photo shows Paul looking over his shoulder to confirm that the fleet feline was indeed a cheetah. I am currently seeking to get clarification about how the story ends and, indeed, why the cheetah was pursuing Paul at all.

Paul's academic researches are, you must agree, rather more exciting than those of his father-in-law.

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