The Ecology of Werewolves

Interestingly were-beasts are a common thread across different cultures. Men and women who have the ability to change into animals. Shape-shifters who are able to travel between the human and the animal world – berserkers, loupgarou, aswangs and werewolves with the aid of magical salves; pacts with the devil and infection can a be man-beasts with a hunger for blood and meat of humans. No one was immune , even those who would say their prayers at night may be come wolf when the moon was whole.

This is of course myth and folklore. Embedded in fairy tales and even urban myths that most of us are familiar with. The most famous of all would be tale of Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. This was and is a cautionary tale that tell us when in the woods do not talk to strangers and never stray from the path.

There are of course true accounts of people killed by man-eaters, not werewolves although some, because of the kill and stories woven around them have became legendary.

The Beast of Gevaudan

In a region in France. a beast described as a giant animal resembling a wolf killed a shepardress – decapitating her head in the process. Gevaudan was a forested area and wolves have been known to attack travellers – one pack of wolves entered Paris before and created havoc until they were cornered and stoned to death by the Parisians. The attacks happened during the reign of Louise XV and people did not believe in werewolves anymore. Although, as the attacks increased and the beast seems to fiendishly evade capture and death; the notoriety of the beast increased to the point that it become to be known as The Beast Its infamy spread beyond Gevaudan, beyond Paris and beyond France: The British newspapers made fun of the French for failing to capture the Beast. A number of wolves were killed but still the attacks continued. The Beast was killed not once but twice before its legend died down.

There have been many theories about the Beast. A giant lone wolf; an ancient hyaena; a dog-hyaena hybrid and even a chimpanzee. Recently an academic study came out that theorised the attacks done in Gevaudan were done not by one wolf but by different wolf packs.

Louis the XV were shown the remains to the two beasts at Versailles. The first beast was deemed un-impressive since it failed to live to its reputed size; while the second one was dismissed outright because it was properly preserved, making it repugnant to look at.

The Beast of Gevaudan is a favourite topic of cryptologists and there are many theories surrounding the incident; and one of the theories inspired the French film The Brotherhood of the Wolf

The Ghost and the Darkness

A railway project that followed an old slave route in Africa becomes the setting of the other story. It happened in the Tsavo region of Africa. British engineers and Indian workers where building a railroad when the attacks came. Workers began to disappear and soon talks of two demons were responsible. Soon they found out two male Tsavo Lions were responsible for the killing of the workers/ The Tsavo male lions were and are not the usual lions we might be used to, they lacked the mane that are frequently shown in media. Like the Beast of Gevaudan the Lions had the uncanny ability of evading measures devised to stop them from attacking people and measures to kill them. Eventually they were killed separately by the engineer building the railway named Patterson. The first news and stories came out about the Lion man-eaters were that they devoured around 130 individuals. Later studies reveal the actual number was thirty. They were not the first or last Tsavo Lions that killed humans.

Patterson kept the Tsavo man-eaters as trophies their skulls and lion skins in his house in England. Eventually, row remains were bought by the Chicago museum, where it was stuffed, put on displayed and studied. And studies later revealed that the Lions main diet were not human but included other animals. Other encounters of Big Cats also came to be known man-eaters, the Tigers of Asia featured mainly in these stories.

The story of the Lions of Tsavo was adapted to two films one of them happens to be the Ghost and the Darkness, which were the names given by to the lions during their spree in Africa.

Saddam the Killer Chimp

The last story we have is the lone male chimp who came to be known as Saddam in Africa. Children and infants began to go missing in a village near a reserve in Africa.In one instance a baby was snatched from the mother while she was tending the fields in another a baby was snacthed from within the family hut when no one was looking. The remains of the babies were found after they were eaten. A lone and ostracised by the tribe male chimp was believed to have been responsible. At one point people saw him running away from a field or a house with the infant in his arms. He was nicknamed Saddam by the locals, after then Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein.

The reserve administration and the locals rook action. Like in the case of the Beast of Gevaudan and the Tsavo Lions it took some time but eventually he was killed. Saddam was cornered and shot.

Despite the depiction of Chimpanzees in television and film as fun loving and cute they do grow up and like man has a habit of violence as a way of life. Violence in and between different groups. It is their cousins the Bonobo who are more peaceful and opting to use sex rather violence to settle things. Interestingly enough, the Bonobos were able to develop their own behaviour because of a river that separated them from the Chimpanzees. Also the Chimpanzees and the Bonobos are the Great Apes genetically close to Man.

Werewolf Ecology

Frank Herbert wrote a passage in his novel Dune that states that Ecology is the study of consequences. If you notice from the three famous or infamous stories of man killers two things readily standout. FIRST, All encounter happen when humans and animals come into contact and conflict. Nature and human civilisation collide there are effects and consequences. The ecology or inter-relationship in the area is disrupted and changed: Predator and prey relationship change; keystone species are displaced; Food source can become scare or even totally depleted; and species that eat only specific food, once it is gone moves away or disappear; And one notices those that survive can eat almost anything or omnivorous. These in turn has been having an impact on its flora and fauna. Given these things, There are usually two short term options adaptation or extinction. SECOND, In all stories, like all werewolf stories, it ended terminally. Is this the only ending when conflict between civilisation and nature happens.

In Attenborough’s documentary series The Life of Mammals carnivores or meat eaters were given one episode and near the end an ironic scene, the Tiger, probably the worlds most successful carnivore, was walking in a field of snow only to be confronted by a wire fence. Man and Nature has met again. Who knows if this is the future state of affairs; animals living in walled enclosures, cages.

This also highlights the challenges of conservation and management of reserves. What can and should be done mn and nature comes face to face. Is there a solution that does not involve extinction. How can you manage natural resources effectively? For Red Riding Hood journeying through the forest to see Grandmother there were only two rules – Do not stray from the path and Do not talk to Strangers. If we want to preserve Nature and save ourselves what two rules do we follow to avoid the Big Bad Wolf or Absolute Extinction?

First respect and understand Nature; and Second stay clear from the twins – greed and corruption?

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Why are the Marcoses back?

Howls and jeers online welcomed the news that Ferdinand Marcos Jr was running. More were generated when a society magazine came out with Imee Marcos in its front cover. However, even as a strong voice of outrage resonates across social media and reported on by media, a crucial question remains why are the Marcoses back? Is there an amnesia that has afflicted Filipino society that makes this possible? Who is to blame? It is easy to point fingers at each other and even issue forth a rain of outrage but what were the factors that led Filipino Society back to what is and seems to be the return of the Marcoses into local and national politics – with a possibility that someday a Marcos would again be the resident of Malacanang.

In 1986, the people were converging on Malacanang. People filled the street and like one mass was moving towards the palace. The day before Ferdinand Marcos took his oath before the Chief Justice and addressed the crowd before Malacanang, Bong Bong Marcos dressed in fatigues was with him, as well was Imelda Marcos. Several hours later they boarded a helicopter bound for Clark and from their they were taken to Hawaii. At that time one would think that this was the end of the Marcoses. Yet here we are in 2015, near the cusp of a new presidential election with news of Bong Bong or Ferdinand Marcos Jr. now a Senator and running as Vice-Presidential Candidate. It would not be the first time in history – the Perons, the Medicis, the Bourbons, the Stewarts and Richard Nixon all by himself, just goes to show what effect time and an elderly look can do.

So why are the Marcoses back? Why are the Marcoses able to come back and be on the road to Malacanang ? Where, when and how did it go wrong?

First, The Marcoses were exiled courtesy of the United States Government and eventually charged by the US Government, not by the Philippine Government. Marcos died in Hawaii and Imelda with the help of Gerry Spence was acquitted by a jury of Americans. The Marcoses with the body of Marcos in a refrigerator-coffin came back to Ilocos and Samar re-establishing their political base, making it possible for Imelda, Imee and Bong Bong to get elected unfailingly. To be honest there were suits against Imelda and the Marcos Estate but like a mammoth in tar pit pool it has become stuck:trapped in the Philippine Justice System. One wonders what would have happened if Ferdinand and Imelda met the same fate as the Ceaucescus – shot by a firing squad after their fail from power. Would things be different? Fortunately for the Marcoese all Governments post Marcos did not effectively prosecute them often choosing to pursue civil over criminal cases and preferring exile without a trial and even a sentencing in absentia. While there may be a need to seek restitution for the victims via a civil case there is an equally important need to pursue the criminal case and it should have been done in the Philippines. Unable to do this made it impossible to stamp the indelible mark of Cain on the Marcoses. Failing to do this is one of the factors that allowed the Marcoses to come back.

Second, The political families and network that supported the Marcoses were never dismantled. A number of them were cooped into the succeeding regimes. And of course when Cory came back she reinstated a number of political exiles who were no better than the Marcps politicians. And soon one could not distinguish them from each other. Most of the political elite’s power came from their ability to serve their locality and deliver their vote.A number of these families existing from the Spanish Colonial Period to the present building fat political dynasties – father, mother, son, daughter and other relatives occupying different positions in government. Anyone popular, rich and with political acumen can harness this existing network of political families to run for national office. Failing to dismantle the network of political families make it possible for the Marcoses to come back.

Third, One has to realise that despite the demonising of the Marcoses one things stand out is that the they actually did good things for the people. It was one of lessons learned by Octavian, who would later be known as Augustus, that ambition and greed is more palatable when served with good service, whether by appearance or actual. Corruption and Human Rights Violations are the unspoken/wish-to-be-forgotten relatives of Public Projects and Law & Order. Despite the sins and errors of Marcos he has done good. And in the years of Marcos in power he has accumulated a number of supporters because he has actually helped them. All post-Marcos government were like this – a mixture of good and bad deeds. Failure to recognise the good side of the Marcoses and factor it in any strategy made it possible for the Marcoses to come back.

Fourth, The sins and mistakes of the father is not the sin and mistakes of his sons and daughters. If we were to punish the sons and daughters of those who have done the country wrong then why start and stop with Marcos? Why not the Japanese Collaborators? Those responsible for the butchering of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna ? Even if they deny the crimes and mistakes of the father social ostracism and repudiation at ballot box should be enough to put them at bay. away from any elected post. Yet they have been winning and even what seemed to be loss – The times Imelda run for President was for political manoeuvring – was a win. Canning and putting on a pillory the sons and daughters for the sins and crimes of the father is gut response devoid of moral ascendancy and is one of the things that made it possible for the Marcoses to come back.

Fifth, Marcos has not been properly demonised in art and culture – more emphasis was placed in canonising his opponents and their successors. This may seem strange following the previous point of the goof Marcos did, one must remember this is a war of propaganda, and in this type of battle truth plays only a small part; Here, perception and public opinion matter. There is nothing wrong with lionising, sanctifying and memorialising the enemies of Marcos. However, this should be coupled with the demonising of Marcos. Minimal to nothing of the sort has happened. Take the case of Richard III of England. When Richard III fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field, another battle was started to paint him as a monster. His physical deformities were mentioned; His ambition was emphasised; His crimes from the killing of his brother and murder of his nephews were woven into culture; and his achievements were diminished. This was done in history books and broadcasted through art and the plays of William Shakespeare. Making Richard III one of the more well known villain in Shakespeare’s work eclipsed only by Honest Iago. The role of Art and Culture cannot be overlooked or forgotten. Failure to demonise Marcos was one of the factors that led to the return of the Marcoses.

Sixth, The children of Marcos actually rebuilt their political power. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, with his political base re-established and secure, Ilocos Norte, was able to build his political career: First, as the Governor with his windmills; Second, as the Congressman of Ilocos Norte; And later as Senator who was one of those seen by a number favourably as those that questioned the flaws of the the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Failure to recognise and include in a plan of containment the led to the return of the Marcoses.

Seventh, Napoleon rose by degrees to become Emperor of France. Coming in after the end of the Reign of Terror he was supposed to remark later that he found the French Crown in the gutter and simply picked it up with his sword. And this brings us to a crucial condition that has led to the resurgence of the Marcoses and possible return to Malacanang Palace. Only a corrupt,incompetent and unemphatic government will provide the means to the Marcos Restoration. In other words failure to have good government is one of the factors that have enables the Marcoses to come back.

A number of us can be shocked, dismayed, and appalled by the return of Marcoses. We may rally and rail against them until the coming of the end of days. Yet as we look at the factors that led to their political resurrection was and is built upon what our leaders and what we have collectively done or fail to do in the past. Hence, The Marcoses have returned.

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Disney’s Chicken Little (1943): Stinging and Relevant in the Age of Social Media

Once upon a time before the Internet and Social Media cartoons were shown as features in movie houses. The propaganda boys and girls of the United States used this as a medium to educate the people against propaganda and at the same time use it as propaganda against their enemy Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Originally, the title of the book Foxy Loxie was reading was Hitler’s Mein Kampf – they changed it to Psychology. This morality tale is still important today as it was during World War II.

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