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The Wilderness Family: At Home With Africa's Wildlife [Hardcover]

Kobie Kruger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 8 2001
Everyone warned Kobie Kruger that being the wife of a game warden at a remote ranger station in South Africa's largest national park would be difficult. The heat would be challenging, malaria would be a constant danger, her husband, Kobus, would have to be away for long stretches of time, there were no schools or nearby doctors for their three daughters, and of course, the place teemed with wild animals. Yet for Kobie and her family, the 17 years in South Africa's Kruger National Park were the most magical —and occasionally most hair-raising —of their lives.

When the Kruger family first arrived at the ranger station, Kobie felt she had found heaven on earth. Sunshine glowed in the lush garden where fruitbats hung in the sausage trees; hippos basked in the glittering waters of the Letaba River; storks and herons perched along the shore. That same night, she awoke to find a python slithering silently across her bedroom floor. It was the perfect introduction to the wonders and terrors that awaited her.

As the Krugers settled in, they became accustomed to living in the midst of ravishing splendour and daily surprises. A honey badger they nursed back to health rampaged playfully through the house. Sneaky hyenas stole blankets and cookware. Ordinarily placid elephants grew foul-tempered and violent in the summer heat. And one terrible day, the shadow of tragedy fell across the family when a lion attacked Kobus in the bush and nearly killed him.

But nothing prepared the Krugers for the adventure of raising an orphaned prince. The lion cub was only a few days old and on the verge of death when they found him alone in the wilds. But Leo, as the girls promptly named the cub, survived on loads of love and bottles of fat-enriched milk, and was soon a rambunctious member of the family.

Writing with deep affection and luminous prose, Kobie Kruger captures the mystery of untamed Africa — its fathomless skies, soulful landscapes, and most of all, its astonishing array of animals. By turns funny and heartbreaking, engaging and alarming, The Wilderness Family is an unforgettable memoir of a woman, her family, and the amazing game park they called home for 17 incredible years.

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From Publishers Weekly

A remote ranger station in the wilds of South Africa's Krger National Park provides the landscape for this memoir of the 17 years that the author, her game warden husband and their daughters lived in the bush amid the big cats and other exotic fauna of this idyllic region. Whether she's recounting a near-slapstick encounter with a creeping python in the bedroom on the family's first night in the backcountry, the nocturnal calls of a prowling local leopard, continual and scary confrontations with a grumpy hippo or a raging bull elephant's death charge, Krger's sturdy and unadorned prose is well suited to the book's natural setting. The animal anecdotes tumble across the pages, at a pace that will engage readers who enjoy natural history and plainspoken yarns; indeed, the book hit #1 in South Africa. Meanwhile, the adversities of a stifling climate, jungle diseases and ornery vipers provide grim balance to the more uplifting adventures recounted here. The land, its creatures and its unchanging laws of survival serve as mentors to the author and her family, and lead the reader toward deeper insights about life beyond the furthest reaches of civilization. For instance, the poignant episode of raising an orphan lion cub into adulthood becomes a lesson in responsibility, freedom and loss for the girls and their mother. The wilderness depicted in this book, is by turns, a demanding teacher and a provider of wondrous gifts. Illus. and photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Kruger, the wife of a South African game warden, raised her three daughters at remote ranger stations in Kruger National Park in the 1980s and 1990s. First they lived in near-complete isolation at Mahlangeni, where the author communed with her many wild pets while her daughters were at boarding school during the week. It was difficult for her to reenter society at their next station, which was relatively populated, but she quickly found her life dominated by raising an orphan lion cub named Leo. Ultimately, the affectionate Leo had to be relocated to a reserve for captive-bred lions, a break felt bitterly by both big cat and woman. Kr ger shows a strong anthropomorphic streak in her tales of animals, both wild and domesticated, but this is part of her charm. She has a wonderful flare for anecdote and gently humorous stories, such as the day her rugged husband, swelling from a snake bite, could not be budged from his chair to go to the hospital. This book will appeal to fans of James Herriot, Gerald Durrell, Joy Adamson, and anyone interested in wild Africa. A best seller in South Africa, it is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
- Beth Crim, Prince William P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of fun and amazing stories June 2 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book consists of many short stories for the first half, and the other half is dedicated for Leo (the lion that they've raised at their park ranger's house).
Lots of fun and amazing stories of the wild visitors and temporarily adapted wild orphans while the author and her family lived in the park rangers houses in 10 years in south Africa.
The later half is about Leo - the cute and sweet lion. Some parts are heart aching but he'll eventually settle down fine in the comfortable environment.
The authors love of nature, love for her children, and great love and respect to the wild animals are beautifully written with lots of nice photograph inside.
One of my favorite books! I've read this book on the way to my safari trip in Africa.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful, wonderful, poignant story June 24 2001
By Eva Dannacker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed reading "The Wilderness Family" so much that I have read it twice! The story was so inspiring, so moving, and so interesting, that I could not get enough of it!
It is evident that the author passionately loves animals, and can see things from the perspective of her animal charges. The love, trust and bonding that had occurred between a lion and his "foster mother" and human family is evident on every page of the book. Some parts of the book are hilarious, other parts speak of a strong person who is not afraid of adventures that some of us would define as HAIR RAISING. The story shows that humans can get attached to animals and animals will reciprocate and display the same love, caring, and affection towards their human benefactors.
Leo the lion was treated with love and dignity but at the same time he was taught to accept authority and sometimes gentle discipline. He had learned to understand what the word NO meant.
The author's delightful sense of humour adds to the enjoyment of this lovely piece of literature. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves animals, who has compassion for creatures of the wild, who understands that animals just like humans experience the same range of emotions of love, fear, grief, joy, loyalty. I just loved reading about the rapport and bond that had developed between the dog and the lion. Highly unusual for a wild animal to regard a dog as a role model and mentor.
Other great animal-human bonding stories I have read are: "The Bears and I" by Robert Franklin Leslie, Ballantine Books Inc. New York and a more recent book: "Summers with the Bears" by Jack Becklund
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read Nov. 28 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like so many other reviewers, I too loved this book. Refreshing to read a book about animals, how they behave amongst themselves and how they adapt to life with humans. I was amazed and inspired by the Kruger family - their hard work and dedication to exist as harmoniously as they did alongside their animal neighbors. A nice change of pace from so many commercialized novels - this book tells the true story of nature and how a human family can fit into it and still come out with a pleasant ending. Kobie narrates the early years of Leo their adopted lion in a delightful way - I felt I truly came to know him. Interspersed with the details on animal life, is the fine depicting of the settings where all these dramas take place. I came to like Kobie, her husband and her children. There was kindness, common sense and firmness of spirit in the telling of their experiences.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Read Feb. 19 2002
By Sandra Humphreys - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
You know those books where you dont want the story to end? I have just finished reading Kobie Kruger's 'The Wilderness Family' and it is just such a story. From laughter to tears, I felt all the emotions that Kobie felt, and if you are an animal lover, you will feel them too.
I enjoyed reading this book so much that I am now determined to go to Africa and meet Leo the Lion one day! He has completely taken my imagination to places that I had never even thought of before, the deepest, darkest areas of Africa. And yet, he is so naive for a lion, you could be forgiven for thinking he is a dog!
I was completely spellbound by the family photos included in the book - I cannot take my eyes off this wonderful animal and the obvious bond it has with all the members of its 'human family'.
Read The Wilderness Family. You will not regret it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book for the whole family, for humans. Nov. 20 2001
By Regnal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Very sensitive and delicate woman beautifully writes The Wilderness Family story.
It was great and refreshing reading because author does not focus on people; bookstores and libraries are full of stories about humans. This book for a change, tells us almost exclusively about animals, leaving humans as a background.
I highly recommend this title to everybody, adults and children.
This type of book, I can imagine, can be read loudly in front of the fireplace to the large family gathering. Kids will learn how to love all creatures: small, large, wild and domestic.
For those adults having a hard time to comprehend how animals can develop and possess awareness of their own existence, Kobie Kruger delivers powerful lesson.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating tale of Africa's wild life Aug. 17 2001
By Sharon Zheng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this facinating tale of Africa's wild life, Kobie Kruger, the wife of a game ranger, gives a vivid account of her experiences as a foster mother to a lion cub named Leo.
Meet the lion cub who loves finger-sucking and fishing, the family dog who becomes best friend and interpreter to the lion cub, and the human family who raises the cub with much love and care. Kruger is an elogent and entertaining story-teller, and this is a delightful and touching story you will want to read over and over again.
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