Return to the Wild


Return to the Wild, by Norman Carr

The late Norman Carr was born in Portuguese East Africa and educated in England. At the age of nineteen he returned to Central Africa where he was associated with hunting and game conservation – except for five years’ service in the Second World War, which he finished as a Company Commander.

He acquired his early African wilderness experience in Portuguese territory, but soon redirected his activities when he was engaged as an official Elephant Control Officer. In this capacity he had to shoot many hundreds of marauding elephants that were a threat to the crops of local subsistence farmers.

His inclinations were more towards game preservation than ‘control’ and in the course of his official career as a Game Ranger he was responsible for the creation of many game reserves, national parks and other sanctuaries. He was made an M.B.E. in recognition of these activities.

He later retired from the Game Department and established his own safari business. He created Wilderness Trails, his own brand of walking safaris. It is one of the options still available to safari guests in the Luangwa Valley.

For over 30 years Norman made a study of lions – their hunting, their mating, the education of their young and the establishment, often violent, of prides and their territories. But in 1957 he became the guardian of two male cubs, Big Boy and Little Boy, and was drawn even deeper into this absorbing world; he fed them and took them with him wherever he was posted by the Game Department of what was then Northern Rhodesia (since 1964 Zambia), but otherwise they were under no constraints whatsoever.

As a pair they were less inhibited than a single lion might have been, and although many of their escapades were amusing, others were sometimes dangerously exciting. One night two enraged and resident wild lions invaded and occupied the author’s camp, determined to drive Big Boy and Little Boy from their domain; the latter made a poor showing. But by the autumn of 1961 Big Boy and Little Boy were capable of not only killing for themselves, but of defending a territory of their own. The time had come for Norman Carr to return them to the wild.

Return to the wild became the title of Norman’s book about this experience. In it he put to remarkable use his opportunities for observing the wildlife of Africa, in all it beauty and ruthlessness; snakes, elephants and crocodiles fascinate him as much as the problems of conservation and the devastating effects of rain and drought. The book is vivid and readable, but it is the observation of lions and their habits – with the quite outstanding photographs –, which makes the book so memorable.

Norman Carr is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on at:

Search for the book (now out of print) from used booksellers, such as this one:

Return to the Wild