Follow up: There’s a Song in Every Silence.

Follow up: There’s a Song in Every Silence.

 

I got a considerable amount of feedback, all positive (thank you my readers) from my post There’s a Song in Every Silence.
Many of you asked if the photo was superimposed. Actually, it most likely is one of the earliest photos of Tippi Degre’ taken in Namibia where she was raised for the first ten years of her life.

Tippi was actually born in Windhoek, Africa. The desert of Namibia, to be exact. Her full name is Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre’. She was named after Tippi Hedren, the movie star, who also started a wildlife sanctuary named Shambala, in California, and a friend named Benjamin who made sure Tippi’s mother made it to a hospital to safely deliver her daughter. Her parents, Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert, were French wildlife photographers and didn’t think twice about their decision to raise her among the biota they were documenting on a daily basis. By the time Tippi Degré was six, she’d begun to resemble a real life Mowgli.

The young girl had taken to wearing a loincloth and befriending the – sometimes huge, sometimes small – animals she’d encounter in her day-to-day. When speaking of her friends, Tippi was frank:

I don’t have friends here. Because I never see children. So, the animals are my friends.   source


Her earliest friends and playmates were the animals. Her parents had lived for six years in the Kalahari desert living with the Meerkats before Tippi was born, so their comfort level was such that they felt comfortable with Tippi living in Africa. Her parents have said they have no regrets, and that it was “fantastic” to be able to offer their daughter such an experience.


Tippi’s parents were and still are wildlife photographers, and they captured everything in these photos that makes Africa so amazing…..the light and harsh beauty of the land, as well as the innocence of a child with a special gift with animals. Tippi said that “everybody was gifted and this was her gift.”


Her first friend was Abu, a 26 year old elephant. Her mother said she had no fear. Her innocence and imagination allowed her to befriend one of the giants of wildlife.

 

Tippi went on to develop relationships with a leopard nicknamed J&B, a cheetah, giant bullfrogs, lion cubs, a baby zebra, a mongoose, crocodiles, a snake, giant bullfrogs – she even rode on her friend, Linda, every now and again.

Linda was an Ostrich.

Sylvie goes on, “She was in the mindset of these animals. She believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions.”


According to her parents, some animals were so taken with her that she almost became an extension of them.


Tippi and Abu


Living with her French parents, wildlife photographers Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre, the three of them travelled extensively through Africa on a unique and incredible adventure.


Tippi also developed strong ties with the bushmen and Himba tribespeople of the Kalahari. They took her under their wing, teaching her their language, hunting skills, and how to feed herself on roots and berries.


“It was magical to be ale to be free in this nature with this child,” explains Sylvie, Tippi’s mother. “She was a very lucky little girl – she was born and raised until the age of ten totally in the wild. It was just the three of us living in the wild with the animals and not too many humans.”
From sitting on the back of an ostrich, lying peacefully with a young leopard or sitting on the trunk of an elephant, these amazing pictures show an unusual bond and tranquility between man and beast.


I shared this photo of her with a giant frog, but I spared you the one of her with a very long s–ke!


Tippi with the Ostrich named Linda.




joy, freedom, awareness……..

 


Such a joyous little girl, even with the lizard running down her side.




However, despite the apparent ease and comfort with which they interact, Sylvie and Alain always put Tippi’s safety first.

“You can’t just meet any of these animals and act like this with them,” explains Sylvie. “Wild animals will either run away or attack you if they are either frightened, injured or need to protect their young.

“But in the arid or semi desert regions of Southern Africa people have farms of 10 000 to 20 000 hectares. The farmers often keep orphan animals and raise them in their house. Sometimes they are tame or used to humans and so this is how Tippi was able to be so close with them.”

However, there were moments when Sylvie and Alain, who have since divorced, had to keep a special eye on their daughter.

Sylvie said: “The photo with Tippi next to the young lion cub Mufasa sucking her thumb is wonderful.

“The year after this photo we came back and we went to see him and he was huge.

“Mufasa came to Tippi and he friendly brushed her with his long tail, like a cat would do, and she almost fell down. I had to take her away – I was not at ease.”

 

This summer Tippi, now 23, passed her Baccalaureate  in cinema, and entered La Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris where she follows her past two years of cinema studies at the Lyceum.

Sylvie added: “Tippi believes she is African and she wants to get a Namibian passport. She wants to become an ambassador for Namibia, and for wildlife. It is like Mowgli’s story, but Tippi’s is true.”

There is a book, Tippi of Africa , written by her parents in 1998. The photography is outstanding and the story quite special. It is a book for children and adults, but so appropriate to read to children in order to develop their wonder about nature, hopefully igniting their awareness about the plight of wildlife, and increasing tolerance for the difference in people and geography. It’s a beautiful world, and we need to save it from ourselves, for ourselves and especially for generations to come. 

And oh, what an adventure they gave to her!


The featured image introducing this post shows Tippi laying next to a Caracal, the Lynx of Africa.

all photos taken by Alain Degre’ and Sylvie Robert. Info from here and here .

Thanks for stopping by. Laters, charisse

Comments

  1. Victoria Moores :

    These amazing photographs are mesmerizing! I would love to see the book that was written by her parents. I am sure she will have some exciting contributions to the world of cinema with this foundation in her life. Her childhood was so unlike anything that I could imagine, yet I feel the purity and enchantment that these images portray. I have viewed them numerous times this morning. They are so Garden of Eden to me.
    Always loving your postings, Charisse. Your love of life and beauty are reflected here each day.

    Victoria Moores

    • Thank you Victoria, I have looked at these photographs many times, dreaming that if there is a chance in another life, that I be so blessed to live one such as hers. Tippi has already been back to Africa to take part in several Discovery Channel programs. I am trying to find these now to view.So glad you enjoyed.

  2. Laurie Smith :

    Fabulous! The one on the ostrich is like a painting! Thank you!

    • You are welcome. Side note…Linda the Ostrich was used to being ridden, but with Tippi, she was always extremely careful, and would not rise up unless she felt it safe for Tippi! This is a bird!

  3. What a wonderful way to start the day! Pure JOY …………..

  4. Awesome! Thankyou for sharing…..

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