As might be expected, Ross’s memoirs are filled with adventures and close calls with wild animals in beautiful, natural settings—but what makes it memorable is his vivid account of surviving an attack by murderous Hutus armed with machetes.
A wildlife biologist who has been working full-time as a safari guide since 1986, Ross has had his clothes stolen by hyenas, been chased by lions and buffaloes, and once made a narrow escape from a herd of charging elephants. He specializes in leading small groups into the East African bush—armed with cameras, however, rather than guns. With the aid of his trusty Land Cruiser and a six-seater Cessna, he takes his clients to private wildlife reserves and mobile campgrounds in national parks, where he makes sure they get close to the wildlife they have come to see. They make their way to the banks of the Mara River, where they watch 1,500-pound crocodiles turn the annual migration of zebras and wildebeest into a horrific feeding frenzy; they hike into Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest for close-up views of rare mountain gorillas. It was there, in 1999, that he and members of his group were attacked by a rebel army of Rwandans who had crossed the Congo border. Caught by surprise in the pre-dawn attack, he was taken captive and beaten, two of his clients were hacked to death, and many others were either murdered or kidnapped—a tragedy that is unmatched by any of Ross’s life-and-death encounters with wild animals in the bush. The wildlife stories reveal a quiet humor, an observant eye, and a deep love of and respect for nature—but the massacre in the Impenetrable Forest and its aftermath change the tone of this account from an appealing selection aimed at natural history buffs and armchair adventurers to an appalling reminder to all that the most dangerous beasts out there are human.
A harrowing and somewhat surreal account of life on the distant fringes of civilization.