Dangerous situations trigger our ‘fight or flight’ reaction. We all know about the flight or flight response but I’d never really thought of it in the animal kingdom. Read on!
South Africa has an enormous problem with rhino poaching. These beautiful animals are killed for their horns for buyers in the East who believe the horn has magical medicinal properties. This is utter rubbish as the horn is much like fingernails which have NO medicinal qualities. Tragically the slaughter continues.
Flight or fight!
Fiona Macleod, in “Orphans get a second chance” (Mail & Guardian, South Africa, March 30 2012) talks about the Fight or Flight response in older rhino calves. The bond between the rhino mother and her calf is incredibly strong. The baby calf often doesn’t leave the dead mother and the calf is usually found covered in machete wounds.
The reaction of the older calves is interesting – they typically displayed a ‘flight or fight’ response. Some tried to charge the poachers and were regularly found with gun shot wounds, or else killed for the little stumps of their horns. Some of the other older calves just take off and keep running, so when they are found days later they have to be treated for dehydration. Really sad, isn’t it?
A ‘flight or fight’ response is hard-wired into all creatures, enabling us to deal with life-threatening situations. Many people criticize themselves for how they reacted in a dangerous situation. If they run away, they criticize themselves for not having stood up and confronted the danger. If they stayed and confronted the danger, they criticize themselves for having been stupid not to have run away. And if we don’t criticize ourselves, there are many others who will do it for us! “You should have done.. ” can be a well-meaning but very unhelpful comment!
Reassure yourself that how you react in a dangerous situation comes automatically and the way you respond is the best way for you to respond! Flight or fight are both equally correct responses There is certainly NO time to think about whether you should stay and fight, or flee! Logic has no say as your automatic response kicks in. Don’t buy into a guilt trip of having made the wrong decision. It’s illogical and only makes you feel worse. You responded in the very best way!
Confronted by a rhino? My flight response will definitely kick in. No thinking needed as I’ll run as fast as my legs can carry me up the nearest tree!