‘The lion is my totem animal, and this is the story of my life in Africa, for the lion.’
My Lion’s Heart is an all-encompassing African story. From Gareth Patterson’s childhood in West and East Africa to his study of a threatened lion population in a private reserve in Botswana to his work with George Adamson, celebrated as the ‘Lion Man’ of Africa, we witness Gareth’s growing commitment to his life’s mission. This is nowhere more evident than in his account of his life as a human member of a lion pride, experiencing life and death through its eyes, as he successfully rehabilitated three famous orphaned lion cubs back into a life in the wilds.
At considerable risk to his own personal safety, he exposed the sordid canned lion ‘industry’ in South Africa, bringing this shameful practice to international attention.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the stressful nature of his work, Gareth suffered a massive physical and mental breakdown in his forties, which he discusses here for the first time with an openness that underlines his courage. Lesser men might have been broken, but his ‘lion’s heart’ fought back and he ultimately overcame his illness.
Gareth Patterson’s long-awaited autobiography is a moving account of one man’s single-minded dedication to the preservation of Africa’s wildlife.
Patterson says: “My Lion's Heart is my tenth book, and is probably the most important book I have written. It tells my life story, a story of tears and smiles, about my attempts to greater protect the iconic animal symbol of this continent, the African lion.”
The second book in Mike Hardwich’s Memoirs of a Vet trilogy.
Following on from the success of his first book, The Lion and the Lamb, this second collection of stories from Mike Hardwich is every bit as captivating as the first.
As a country vet whose territory covers the rich valleys and farmland of KwaZulu-Natal, his clients range from cattle farmers to owners of domestic pets, from game ranchers to circuses. The demands on a vet are constant and often arrive at very inconvenient times. Called upon day and night, Mike brings to each case his skills, ingenuity and years of experience, and although he never loses sight of his aim of preserving and improving the lives of the animals he is called upon to treat, sometimes he is sorely challenged by their owners. Whether he is describing the difficult birth of a two-headed calf, discovering sheep scab on the Isle of Man, caring for Dorothy the elephant in her declining years, or helping Reggie the rat’s grieving owner accept his impending demise, Mike’s compassion and pragmatic humour never seem to flag.
These enjoyable tales of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of a veterinarian who always sleeps with one ear cocked, will leave you wanting more.
The first book in Mike Hardwich’s Memoirs of a Vet trilogy.
The stories in this book are first-hand experiences of Mike Hardwich, both a vet and a farmer, who originally practised in Pietermaritzburg, but now practises at The Heritage Vet in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal.
Amongst other stories Mike tells of the birth of the first orang-utan in Africa, a C section on a marmoset, complications with farm animals, problems with elephants, the anaesthesia of a fruit bat, racehorses and their crooked owners, obstacles resulting from African superstition, and introduces us to his family’s pet menagerie.
The title of the book is taken from a commission Mike received to get a lion and a lamb to lie down together to promote peace at a time of heightened racial tension in South Africa, in 1992. The advert went on to win the award for ‘Best Advertisement for Peace’, world-wide, at Cannes.
In places this book is laugh-out-loud funny, and in others incredibly sad – it is suitable for all ages, for all animal lovers, and is a must read for all aspirant vets.
The third book in Mike Hardwich’s Memoirs of a Vet trilogy.
“So far it had been a blissfully peaceful weekend. A restful break such as this is what every vet dreams of. The standby vehicle had remained stationary and the telephone had been silent. The veterinary hospital was empty even though the days of the last week had been very busy. Actually, it seemed too good to be true. As it happened, it was.”
It takes a lot to unsettle a vet who has been in practice for a career spanning a good few decades, but when Mike Hardwich learnt that the wattled crane from the Hlatikulu sanctuary with the badly broken wing needing his urgent attention was also the only breeding male in captivity in South Africa, and one of a highly endangered species, he knew he could not afford to make any mistakes. This and all the other stories in this the third book in his memoirs trilogy, following on from the bestselling The Lion and the Lamb and The Rhino and the Rat, makes riveting and unforgettable reading.
With his infectious mix of humour and humility, and drawing on a broad range of experiences, Mike recounts his endearing tales of treating creatures wild, wonderful and sometimes downright weird, including an encounter with an untrustworthy zebra, a llama in the Midlands who contemptuously spat in his face, and domestic pets whose owners probably needed more treatment than they did. We get to know Mike’s own story along the way, as the boy who carried baby chicks in his school blazer pocket and who never got to ride his first horse, to his grandmother’s talkative parrot who could command a span of oxen, and to the next generation of animal carers in his daughter Dale, whose patience and gentle skills reap multiple rewards for all.