Meet the real life Mowgli: Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre
September 6th, 2016 | by Web Desk
Meet the real life Mowgli: The Girl Who Grew Up In Wild Namibia, With Bushmens and Animals, Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre
Can you imagine surviving in the woods all alone for a few days? Is it possible to imagine animals as your brothers and sisters while living amongst them? Imagine a kid living in the woods for years amongst wild animals and creatures. Meet the real-life Mowgli.
The French girl, named Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre better known as Tippi worldwide, was born and brought up till the age of ten completely into the wild in Namibia. She lived along with her parents for all these years spending most of her time amongst wild creatures and tribal people. She considers an elephant as her brother and a leopard as her best friend. Her playground was the wild bushes of Namibian desert.
She was born in Windhoek, Namibia in 1990. Both of her parents, Sylvie Roberts and Alain Degre, are wildlife photographers and filmmakers. She was named after the famous actress, Tippi Hedren, who starred in one of the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic ‘The Birds’.
Tippi’s wildlife adventures began as early as started as early as when she reached the age of one and half years only.
She did not see the huge difference between her size and the size of the giant elephant, Abu, as described by her mother Sylvie. She would just look into its eyes and start talking and playing with it. Within no time she was able to befriend these wild animals.
Her mother always believed her to be a gifted child. Even in the harsh conditions of Namibian desert or Madagascar, she always used the power of her imagination to communicate with the animals, play with them and to adjust in such harsh conditions without any child of the same age-group to play with. Even the animals took care of her and treated her gently.
The instances narrated by her mother reveals the devowed love which the animals possessed for her. She even has a picture of Tippi riding on the back of an Ostrich, Linda. Linda did not move as she was afraid of having Tippi on its back as she might have fallen if it started running.
She would believe as she was one of them and belonged in the wild with them. She was never afraid and was always very confident even though her parents might be scared. Her parents were always cautious and put Tippi’s safety first at all costs.
There is a photograph of a lion’s cub, Mufasa, sucking on to Tippi’s thumb which is really adorable. Later on as Mufasa grew bigger, it again came back to her to show its affection and love by brushing its tail against Tippi as a cat would do. But as Tippi was just a young child, fell down.
Her mother had to take her back to protect her. She was a courageous child but her parents always had to watch out for her against danger. During her stay in Namibia and Madagascar, Tippi befriended an elephant, lion cubs, giraffes, a crocodile, leopard whom she nicknamed as J&B, a baby zebra, a caracat, an ostrich, bullfrogs and cheetah. These are all described very well in her own book, documentary and movie.
The exotic and exciting adventures of Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre are very well described in her book called ‘Tippi: My Book of Africa’. The events of her life demonstrated in this book led to its comparison with the famous character of Rudyard Kipling called as Mowgli which does not need any introduction and explanation.
Many of the wild animals are orphaned and are often taken care of by the farmers or the local tribal people in Africa. This is how the interaction of Tippi began with these animals.
A documentary named Le Monde Selon Tippi was released in 1997 which described her experiences in the wild. She is also the inspiration of the film named Around the World with Tippi directed by Jeanne Mascolo de Fillippis which was released in 2004. At the age of 18, Tippi enrolled herself for a degree in cinema and audiovisuals at the University of Paris.
She presently lives in Paris and is a director of ‘El Petit FICMA’, which is the children’s section of the famous FICMA festival. However dangerous it might sound, it might not be normal for a parent to allow her kid to grow up in the wild. Sylvie, Tippi’s mother, took a courageous step by allowing her kid amongst the wildlings.