Sunday, December 26, 2010

Afternoon of a tapir

In April 2006, when Michael and I were visiting Costa Rica, the environment minister became lost in the jungles of Corcovado. It was in all the Costa Rican newspapers, and having been in the forests of Corcovado ourselves, we followed the story avidly.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez was on a ranger patrol when he disappeared. Search parties on foot and in helicopters scoured the park looking for him. They found him three days later, scratched, bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted. What happened?

He had glimpsed a baby tapir, and could not resist trying to get a better look. The tapir's mother charged him, pushed him down and began to bite him. When he tried to flee, mama tapir chased him into a ravine, where he hit his head on a rock and lost consciousness.

You'd think Rodríguez would never want to see another tapir after that, but not so. He said the experience left him with, "a personal and particular interest in tapirs that I never had before." Today he is an international expert on tapirs and has dedicated his career to preserving their dwindling habitat.

We should all be so lucky. Destiny doesn't always come looking for us as tenaciously as it did for Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. It chose him, pursued him, and smacked him over the head until finally, he woke up to his true purpose.


chook said...

this post resonated with me, and now i have a "particular interest" in tapirs!

smartz said...

I'm not sure who is the most lucky: the tapir or the man who "lost his head" but found his heart.

John said...

Are those things real? They're too cute to be real!

Tai said...

John, they are real! Just shy and seldom aerophants.

Smartz, that is a lovely and very Smartz-like way of putting it.

Chook, I've just been looking at your gorgeous blog, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if a tapir showed up one day, perhaps to take the place of that hoped-for goat....