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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Archive for the ‘Necrology’ Category

How To Be Dead

Posted by Richard Conniff on July 7, 2017

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(Illustration: JooHee Yoon)

by Richard Conniff/The New York Times

Years ago, doing some research in England on moles — the burrowing kind — I paid a visit to the grave of Kenneth Grahame. As author of “The Wind in the Willows,” Grahame was the creator of the fictional Mole, a mild-mannered character beloved by children everywhere for messing about in boats, bumbling dimly into the Wild Wood and otherwise misadventuring with Ratty, Badger and Mr. Toad of Toad Hall.

There were plenty of things poignant about the grave. But what struck me most was that all of Grahame’s characters would have been at home there. Holywell Cemetery, off a busy road in the heart of Oxford, is both a graveyard and a wildlife refuge. Footpaths wind through shrubby undergrowth, and the graves support a natural succession of snowdrops, daffodils and so on through the seasons. Moles no doubt burrow there, and toads do whatever it is that toads do. (But please tell me it involves tootling about in motorcars and flinging coins to urchins.)

I doubt that I put it in so many words at the time, but the thought has lately come back to me: This is how I want to be dead. That is, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Necrology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Gone Before Beginning

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 11, 2011

This is a sad addition to the Wall of the Dead, not least because it was such a needless death.  This account comes from the Purdue University student newspaper for June 8:

A 21-year-old Purdue student, who had a life-long passion for reptiles, died on Friday while on a volunteer trip to the Cayman Islands with the Blue Iguana Recovery Program.Daniel Hamilton, senior in the College of Agriculture, died from hyperthermia, or heat stroke. He was found in the thick bush in Grand Cayman where he was taken by paramedics to a hospital but later died. He was from Hebron, Ind.

The resonating message from family and friends close to Hamilton was that his passion has always been reptiles and wildlife …

Field work can be dangerous.   But dying of heat stroke on a Caribbean resort island is absurd.  People who organize these expeditions need to protect their volunteers better from such obvious hazards.

Posted in Necrology | 1 Comment »