World War Z Fanfiction: World War Z: The Lost Interviews - 16. Animals (Around the World, And Above)
SERENGETI WILDLIFE RESERVE, TANZANIA, EAST AFRICAN FEDERATION
[I sit in the passenger seat of an open Jeep as Matthew J. Hawkins drives. He is toned, tanned, and wears Aviator sunglasses and a British safari hat as the sun beats down on the land. Originally from Bristol, England, he now works in the EAF as a zoologist. This reservation is home to many distinct African animals such as cheetahs, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and hippos. It is also the largest wildlife reserve in the EAF, with the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya coming at a close second. Mr. Hawkins shouts over the sound of the old, diesel-fueled engine.]
One thing about the war I believe people tend to look over whenever they write a book or make a documentary is the fauna. I know they love to talk about the dogs or even the horses, but just animals like the ones you see all around you tend to be put in the back row.
There’s no need to explain about animals like cattle and chickens and all them. Most animals who were already domesticated or were kept in captivity either for food or entertainment purposes were relatively safe within the safe zones. But that’s not say that all of them who were in captivity were spared. I know most animals in zoos around the world either died of starvation or were eaten by their captors in desperation, like that community in Tennessee. What was the name of that place? Gatlinburg, I think?
Anyway, one thing that still baffles us in the zoology community is how they are able to detect when growlers are near. All animals, from the tiniest ant to the largest elephant, seem to have this sixth sense or something, something that makes them run in complete terror. Even when a lone growler is at least a mile away, they drop whatever they’re doing and bolt. Almost as if someone had flipped on a switch. To this day no one knows why exactly, but at least that sixth sense gave them a head start to get the bloody hell out of Dodge before they could become zombie chow. Many would migrate, either north or west or wherever that they would be safe.
Where would they go?
Anywhere that was zombie-free. Even if they were forced to migrate out of their natural habitats and be away from their natural food sources meant that many had to adapt. Even today in the lower Sahara, you can still catch a glimpse of African wild dogs roaming around. And there are rumors floating around that some animals from China have made the now-empty DPRK their home, but no ones knows for certain. Someone should really get on that though, find out what the hell happened there, or what’s going on there now.
And while most reports are passed orally, there are in fact a few officially documented cases where some animals have actually defended themselves against the undead.
Just depended on the situation. There was a case in Poland, in the Carpathian Mountains. A couple of young soldiers on patrol of the safe-zone of the Polish forces witnessed a quite a show. A bear cub was injured, probably a broken leg or something, and a pack of seven were closing in. Mama Bear wasn’t going to let her baby be eaten and went as crazy as you would expect a mother bear to react. With one blow, she actually decapitated one of them, before leaving a second one nearly headless, its rotten, still snapping head resting on its shoulder and only being supported by a few strings of rotten flesh. The two men later went on to state that Mama Bear was able to take down all of them, but no before suffering a few wounds herself. After it was finished, she and her cub took off. She was never seen again, but we all know what happens when animals are infected.
And that’s only one reason; protecting their young. You also had a few instances where particularly fierce animals were corned and only did so out of an adrenaline rush. An elephant would go crazy and start stomping or swinging its trunk as a weapon, a rhino would charge and impale or seriously maim its attackers. One woman from Australia evens claims that while her group was traveling through the Outback, she could have sworn she saw a dingo run up a rock, push off a larger rock, and land on top of a growler, before tearing out its neck. I don’t know if that actually happened. She might have just been hallucinating from the heat and a lack of food. Who knows?
[I watch the wildlife as Mr. Hawkins speaks. Some animals are relaxing in the sun, a few are mating. I see one lioness munching on a warthog’s carcass.]
But, sadly, not all animals have survival skills. They can run an hide all they want, but the ones who can’t swim or climb are often met with a gruesome fate. Hoofed or slow animals had little hope of escaping the growing hordes, and even less hope from desperate humans. From zebras to antelopes, those poor bastards never had a chance. Now that’s not to say that all of them met their end. I mean, if they did, the predators of the world wouldn’t still be here, now would they?
As for the ones who came out on top, without a doubt, primates and jungle cats had the best luck. I mean, why else would you see dozens of lions cowering up on large rocks, or families of baboons hiding in the treetops? They were probably the most successful mammals to survive other than humans. They would only come down to hunt for whatever prey weren’t set upon by growlers or any humans that managed to survive.
But that didn’t leave them immune to every threat, correct?
Damn straight! How about in Brazil, where sloths are now on the same level of the extinction pyramid as turtles? Unlike other animals who were simply not able to seek shelter or fight back, they became primary targets for forest-dwelling Homo sapiens. And then you have the humans who had long-range rifles. A good chunk of animals met their end via a bullet just as much as being ripped open or simply bitten.
But probably the worst thing, especially when it comes to us humans, is the rodents. With so many abandoned towns and villages, and with no one to keep them in check, they have multiplied like crazy. I got a good glimpse of that when I was volunteering with the UN task force in what used to be Ghana. We were clearing out Accra, and we came across this run-down motel. We broke down the door to one room; nothing but rats. And these rats were fuckin’ humungous, each one nearly the size of a house cat! You could not see an inch of floor, there were so many of them. Those bastards are still a problem, even ten years later. But on the upside, I hear exterminators are making almost close to six figures now.
As for the ones who take to the sky, the vast majority of birds have remained intact. It’s harder to grab and eat something that can fly faster than a man can run. There’s also not much to report on the Arctic and Antarctic species. Most penguins and walruses are still kicking it, but polar bears are still recovering. And then of course there is the whale situation…
I know most surviving governments at that time tried everything they could to protect some animals, but didn’t any government attempt at keeping these kinds of animals alive?
Well, I can’t speak for every continent, but I can tell you about Africa. Tanzania and Kenya were the only nations in this region of the continent that were still functioning. Well, the Ethiopians had some stuff going for them, but I’m referring to the former countries that now make up the EAF. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, almost all of Africa was easily overrun. With no mountain ranges other than the Atlas Mountains in the North, and only a few offshore islands that could support a relatively small population, it’s no wonder that most of the continent was brought to its bony knees in such a short period of time. But Dodoma and Nairobi were the only ones that could make a retreat, fleeing to Zanzibar and Pemba respectively. At that point the Tanzanians didn’t care if the Kenyans were setting up shop on the former’s property. They were obviously focused on other matters.
Did they cooperate any?
When over half of your populations are either reanimated or reduced to human buffets, what other choice to you have? Once they set up shop, they began implementing Redeker, adding their own little unique twist to it. Given the layout of both countries, but Tanzania specifically, they decided it would be important to use not only their own people as bait, but the animals as well.
The bait zones set up on the mainland were to function as both human safe-zones as well as zoos. Before the pullout, both governments had mandated that all the metropolitan zoos that were not overrun to be evacuated and the animals transported en masse to the outposts scattered throughout the region. I’ve heard that accomplishing such a task wasn’t easy, as establishing human safe zones was already a migraine to fulfill.
They tried not to push any bait zones to far inland. Since their arial vehicles were grounded due to fuel shortages, they had to transport their supplies by sea, and then to awaiting bases on the shore. Imagine doing that while keeping hundreds of growlers at bay.
The most famous zone was the one set up at the base of Kilimanjaro. It’s since been converted into a museum, but oh man you should have seen it in its heyday.
There’s also stories of humans defending animals either to the death, or just nobly. There was the case in Peru, where a shepherd and his wife were able to defend their flocks of sheep and llamas from a hundred and forty growlers, high up in the mountains. Then you have those Indian soldiers in the Himalayas who not only saved a herd of elephants from zombies, but also from a traveling pack of starved Pakistanis who had gotten their hands on some guns left by the fleeing Indian army.
Have you read the reports or seen those photos or even video recording from Vietnam? Those fuckers got real creative with their animals. There are dozens of incidents where the Vietnamese would put small animals into cages and use them to lure zombies into a kill zone. Sure the animal might have shit itself in fear when the growlers showed up, but when they got close enough, the Vietnamese would blast ’em or blitz them over the head.
[We stop on top of a small hill. We observe a pack of nine impalas stopping by a pond for a drink. Mr. Hawkins removes his sunglasses to get a better view.]
But in a way, for some animals, the near extinction of man was probably a good thing. Take the western lowland gorilla for example. They’re native to the Western Congo, and what used to be Gabon and Cameroon. Before the war, they were one of the most critically endangered species of great apes in the world, their numbers barely reaching three hundred. Now I think that number rests at seventeen hundred. And who could forget how much larger the Bengal tiger population has gotten in the last four years alone? I’m not saying the outbreak was a good things, but for those once endangered creatures, maybe there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fun fact: there actually is plans for a real life East African Federation right now. If it is to be formed, it will consist of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Go look it up, it’s pretty interesting.
Also in my version of WWZ, the EAF comprises of all the countries listed above, but the EAF also annexes the parts of Somalia that weren’t taken by Ethiopia post-war.