Tippi Of Africa: The Little Beastmaster

In 1990, Tippi Degré – daughter of Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert, a couple who chose to relinquish their lives in France for the freedom of nature in Southern Africa – was born in the newly independent Namibia. Her parents worked as freelance wildlife photographers and film makers. At 10 months the toddler was exploring the Namibian bush and desert.

For 10 years, Tippi wandered the bush bare footed, making friends with all sorts of animals: leopards, caracals, mongooses, baboons and snakes.

Her playground was the hills and the harsh desert tribe lands of southern Africa; as the family wandered the bush land, Tippi picked up all kinds of friends – like Abu, a five ton (28-year-old) elephant she calls “her brother”.

She would ride to a water hole on top of Abu and splash with the elephants of the herd, cuddle giant bullfrogs, lion cubs or meerkats; and became a grasshopper hunting specialist with the chameleons she was so fond of.

Tippi also befriended the Himba tribes people and the Bushmen of the Kalahari, who taught her how to survive on roots and berries and hence gave her practical experience of real life in the bush.

Life as a bush baby came to an end after her last year of "freedom" in Madagascar when Tippi moved to the French capital with her mother six years ago. But both in fact and in her heart, she remained an African.

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