“I knew that I was an animal,” UK author Daniela Sieff writes in her essay “Being Animal,” which appears in the current issue of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry. “I had studied ecology and understood that I was part of the web of life. I had studied evolution and understood the processes that had forged humankind, alongside all other living creatures. But my understanding had come from books, and it was not until I lived in Tanzania that it became real to my own body and mind.” On a long walk in the outback with her friend and guide Momoya, her book knowledge becomes spine-tinglingly real:

“After a couple more hours of walking, the grasslands change into woodland, whereupon my awe cartwheels into fear. On the open plains, Momoya and I had been able to see quite some distance, and that left us feeling it would be relatively easy to avoid dangerous animals; now that we are picking our way through an opaque tangle of trees, brush, and brambles, we can barely see six feet in front of us. The muscles in Momoya’s forearm tense as he grips his spear more tightly. He says we must stop talking and focus on looking and listening for animals. He is particularly worried about small bachelor groups of buffalo, which have a propensity to charge humans. He is equally concerned about leopards and lions.”

To read the rest of Daniela’s essay, and the work of 40 other wilderness writers, visit

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