Maretha Botha is an Italian National born in South Africa. She and her family now live in Lancashire, United Kingdom, where she writes and illustrates animal and bird adventure stories, based on her experiences while growing up in South Africa. Her love for the southern African landscape, its environment, animals, birds and people shines through in her series of books which she entitled, “Fauna Park Tales”. She has completed the first four books in this series.
She and her family lived in Botswana for a few years before immigrating to the United Kingdom. This series, “Fauna Park Tales: An African Adventure” is set against this background. Many of the stories are based on fact – things which she observed while living on the outskirts of a game reserve as well as the lives of her family’s pets – dogs, cats and birds, even birds of prey such as martial eagles – through the years. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she worked as a research librarian and used these skills to do thorough research as far as the birds of prey and smaller birds mentioned in her stories are concerned. Before leaving Botswana, her post in a private school library convinced her that her series of books will be enjoyed, not only by children, but also adults who are interested in the environment around them, as well as smaller wild animals and birds.
Featured here is Book 1, “Flame and Hope: An African Adventure” – an Excerpt, Chapter 6 – “The Promise”.
THE MORNING AFTER THE FULL MOON, Flame was the first to arrive at my tree. He was no longer a skinny, scared or hungry puppy. The time had come for him to put his promise to Lera, his first mistress, into action. A martial eagle, a pair of African fish eagles, and many smaller birds arrived at the same time, the latter mostly to be part of a noisy audience.
Flame lifted his left front paw and barked, ‘It’s a pity that the Peregrine falcons are not here for our special meeting, and Spike-BullT has remained on the porch, but we can’t wait much longer. Perhaps they’ll come next time. You all heard about the events of three dry seasons ago which brought me to the farm, as well as the promise I made to my first mistress. Now that I’m big and strong, I must keep my promise to her and do my duty. This is my choice. You’ll agree that there are many helpless ones – injured, young or older bush creatures – that need our care and protection, right here in Molodi. Even the good humans don’t always know what our needs are. I asked a martial eagle to let you know what had happened to him and his family during the previous dry season. His name is Martin.’
Flame finished his barks and looked up at a martial eagle perching above him in the acacia. The martial eagle’s wings drooped down and he kleeoued, ‘There are many bad humans who want to hurt others. My partner and I had two fledglings that disappeared from our nest. We began looking for them that same day and followed many leads. While we were searching further north-east, she accidentally ate poisoned bait meant for the pests which had destroyed farmers’ sunflower crops. Since then, I’ve been looking for our lost ones on my own. I wish we’d had a safe place to come to, then!’
The martial eagle is one of the most persecuted bird species in the world. Due to its habit of taking livestock and regionally valuable game, local farmers and game wardens frequently seek to eliminate martial eagles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_eagle
In South Africa, you’ll find them making their nest high up on electric pylons which run across a thirst land called the Karroo* – far from the perils which humans bring. * The Karoo (/kəˈruː/ kə-ROO; from a Khoikhoi word, possibly garo “desert”) is a semidesert natural region of South Africa. Note the sparse vegetation, yet the area supports Merino sheep farming and diverse wild life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karoo
The Karroo landscape and a fortunate martial eagle – he lives in the Kruger National Park – photograph by my sister, Constanza.
Martin, a martial eagle, becomes part of an intriguing secret – he lost his fledglings. In another part of the valley, Flame and his friends come across a young, French-speaking martial eagle – where does he come from? Was he perhaps rescued by a kind lady who runs a shelter for birds and animals?
https://marethabotha2013.com/ (child-friendly blog)
THANK YOU SO MUCH RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB AND THE BLOG POST HOSTS FOR YOUR WONDERFUL SUPPORT AND THE PRIVILEGE TO BE THE SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR THIS MONTH!