the great wild cat of Bergonia, the top of the food chain, and the
the pronunciation in all native languages. Speakers of the European
languages generally say "pree-ba." It is a word of great
antiquity with very little change over the millennia. Historical linguists
are pretty sure that the word was essentially the same in early Proto-Minidun
and Kuan and quite likely Proto-Pasan as well. Many of the earliest
inscriptions contain the sequence of letter "p-r-b," using
writing systems that recorded only consonants, like many of the earliest
writing systems in the Middle East.
The Preba is about the build of a
jaguar-cat, but a little thinner and lighter. It commonly has a
feline face, with ears longer and more tapered like a cat. Preba genetics are more plastic than those of most
of the world's other large cats, and thus exhibits more variation.
The preba is generally tawny or tan, like a couger, but some are light-gray or silver-gray,
and some of any color sometimes have black
or dark gray on the face, feet and tail, especially the characteristic "M"
on the forehead.
The preba prefers the
mountains and defiles in the high places. They generally live in
monogamous couples, though some males have more than one female.
This great meat-eater preys on the tuashe, antelope and deer.
Preba was at the top of the food chain (that honor now goes to us) and symbolized power and
nobility. Bergonians have always been deeply attached to groups
(e.g. clans), but the Preba's solitary ways
suggest something sympathetic to the individual warrior. Men of the
Preba Clan in ancient society were far more likely to become rulers than
any other clan. Some preba-clan rulers became almost ridiculously
protective of the "noblest beast." In the last 200 years the
preba has served as a potent political symbol-- witness the Mountain Cat Party
and the PRB.
Prebas for centuries have made horrible visitations
upon the sheep of the hill shepherds. The specie would likely have been
hunted down to extinction a long time ago, but for the quasi-religious
reverence the animal enjoys. In medieval times, after the forests had
receded, the sovereigns made it practice of compensating shepherds for their
in order to keep the shepherds from hunting the noble cats.
This of course became something of a racket. One medieval comedy relates
how a bunch of desperate farmers decide to become shepherds in order to
bamboozle the tieri with falsely killed sheep. They slaughtered so many
sheep on the mountainside and made so many claims that the tieri, his ministers
and all the people in the region became convinced that some unholy preba-monster
was on the loose. The tieri came with his staff, a platoon of priests and
knowledgeable scribes, generals and soldiers and occupied the village,
expecting the villagers to tell them about the monster and to take them up on
the mountainside. The faux-shepherds go to elaborate lengths to keep up
the ruse until they become rich.
The Pretla, a bobcat-sized wildcat
of various colors—black, gray, tawny, reddish and a
number of mixtures, about the same size of a North American bobcat, but
leaner and longer, usually ten to fifteen pounds. It is every bit as secretive
as a bobcat, and very nocturnal. Preys on rabbits, tapirs & rodents,
also some scavenging. Will fight dogs. This species has been
endangered until recent years.
The Pulre is a smaller
wildcat, about the size of an African Wildcat or a small
domesticated cat, only about five pounds. It is the origin of the
Bergonian domestic cat that mated
with the domesticated cat brought to Bergonia by European settlers. Since
the Eurasian domesticated cat probably derived from either the African
Wild Cat or the Jungle Cat, zoologists have sought to compare these two
species with the Bergonian Pulre, and have concluded that the Pulre is
genetically very similar to the Jungle Cat, suggesting again prehistoric
human links between Bergonia and Africa. Perhaps early seafarers
transported some Jungle Cats or Pulres. The most ancient literature
(hymn, prayers, dedications, spells) all mention cats in the company
of priests, priestesses and sorcerers.
The Vishget, a gray wild dog lived in
Bergonia before Columbus. The Vishget was highly
unpopular and associated with Tanteli, the evil prankster god, and also
with Fane, the goddess of fate. The vishget, like all other
canines the world over, lives in packs. This dog is only two and a half
feet in average height and only forty-sixty pounds.
The people of Pre-columbian Bergonia regarded the
vishget at best as a nuisance. No clan was named after the vishget.
Many sought to kill them, even though Shufrantei law forbade the "unnecessary"
death of an animal. In Tanic
times the vishget almost disappeared altogether, but the arrival of the
Europeans and the resulting calamitous decline in the native population
gave the vishget a reprieve. Even though Bergonia’s population surged
from 1750 to 1950, the vishget survived in
small pockets, reduced to perhaps a low of 9,000, but now under environmental protection and flourishing.
The Tlafri, a large, lean breed of dog, usually brown or black, with a long
narrow muzzle, the standard mutt version about 30-40 pounds. The natives
domesticated it around 1000 B.C. From the tlafri the natives bred several
varieties of working dogs of varying sizes and characteristics. It
was not until Medieval times that people in Berg started breeding dogs as
pets. There are descended from the Tlafri 47 registered, recognized
and shown breeds of dog.
The most notorious
is the Numon hound, a hugely tall lanky canine
and a disposition that makes it very amenable to human discipline, but also a killer.
Most similar in appearance to a Rhodesian Ridgeback (a.k.a. African Lion
Dog), except its head & ears look like a Doberman
Pinscher. While Dobermans & Lion Dogs weigh in at about 80
pounds, the Numon is The ancient Ceiolaians bred the Numon for tracking on the
hunt, and they hunt by both sight and sound, and pursue their prey much
like stag hounds . They are associated with banda
warriors, traveling in a fierce pack. The Numon is lightening fast and have been known to bring
down deer. Imagine a breed of killer greyhounds or giant
Dobermans. It has been called the Tyrannosaurus Rex of Dogs.
The most adored breed is the Ichastli,
the Bergonian sheep dog, rather like
an Belgian Malinois or Belgian shepherd, two feet high, approx. at the
withers & 60 pounds weight, a good smart dog useful as a guard dog and
now the premier dog used for police work in Bergonia.
The Tlori, the smaller common canine,
Bergonia's third native species of canine, the smallest, usually
yellow, buff or brown in collar, usually never more than 25
pounds. Several varieties have been bred, including sheep dogs,
but never over thirty pounds. Historical records indicate that
there were wild tloris as recently as 500 AD.
Two species of monkeys live in
the southern and eastern lowlands of Bergonia, wherever thick forests
grow. Much of the south is open country, but thick forests grow in the
southwest, in the hills and low mountains, and along the rivers and coasts. There are
thick cloud forests on the eastern slopes of the southern Spichelamos, and
thick jungles covering the Plu Mountains in the southwest. In these
monkeys frolic and prosper. The Black Monkey resemble the spider monkey and
the Gray Monkey resembles the
The natives have regarded the
monkeys as charming nuisances. Unlike the Indians of tropical America,
Bergonians have always abhorred the thought of eating monkeys. Throughout
history, however, the natives have sought to make the monkeys pets, of
course with usually disappointing results. Current populations are
restricted but stable or growing, and neither species has ever been
Hundre, a reddish bear
smaller than the North American black bear, hardly ever more than 250
pounds. It is a shy animal and lives
in the forests and mountains. But if cornered it can display a wild fury.
This bear does not hibernate in the strict sense like Neolithic species,
but will sleep and doze in cold and lean times. It is the only
species of bear in the world that has adapted the hibernating tendency
against drought instead of winter. This is the only bear species
indigenous to Bergonia.
native version of sheep, smaller than most breeds of
sheep in Eurasia. Also very similar in build, look, habits,
and economic usefulness, the Bergonian sheep is altogether a
different species from any Eurasian animal. The rams have fine
The Clei, native
species of goat, likewise smaller than most breeds of
goats in Eurasia. Pre-columbian Bergonians relied on the
different breeds of clei for milk, meat, hair and hides.
The Tlaio, a hoofed
very similar to the donkey. It cannot mate with the donkey, the horse or any other species. It's
smaller than the donkey, averaging four feet at the shoulders. The
natives used it to pull their plows, but people have found them
temperamentally unsuited for use as a beast of burden. It a buff or
tan color, with a few breeds sporting silver-gray or charcoal-gray
coats. Whatever the color, there is usually a darker stripe
running down the neck & back.
(N.), also called the Beinu (M.), a
four foot tall wild ass living in the mountains, usually
favoring the meadow and open spaces above the tree line. They are
gray, light gray or pale in color. The bucks have thick straight
horns, thus favored for hunting by upper-classes once, and became a
threatened species. Unfortunately the Beinu contributed to its own
decrease by its peculiar curiosity. It on occasions follows hikers
and hunters and intrudes upon their campsites. It is
nevertheless skittish and rather steadfastly refuses any human
touch. On occasion herders will find several Tuashe grazing in
meadow with their sheep and goats. The meat of this animal is not
much to anyone's taste. It was once classed as an endangered
species, but with protected status the population is rebounding nicely.
Solenodon, like the rare species in Cuba,
Hispanola and other Caribbean islands. Imported mongooses
killed off all the Solenodons in Cuba, but it survives in great
numbers in Bergonia. The Solenodon goes by the Minidun word Tiercre
("tee-eh'-creh") It lives in all subtropical
forests. It is the size of a guinea pig or smaller, with a
long pointy noise and skinny rat-like tail. The critter runs
in a zig-zag manner, even when under pursuit by a fast predator.
It will sometimes trip over its own feet. It is hunted with
dogs in Haiti, and the hunters there say it will stick its head in a
hole with the rest o its body exposed to the dogs' eyes. It is
also called Shifla, a Nacateca world which means "silly"
or "dumb" in only mildly pejorative terms.
Rev. 7 May 05
Many of the native species are
smaller than their counterparts in Europe and America. The smaller size of
Bergonia fauna is its primary distinguishing characteristic. The smaller
size seems to fit comfortably with the smaller size of the island itself
and its correspondingly smaller environments. The analogy would be
perfect, except that the atrei-- the people of Bergonia-- have always been
The most obvious point about Bergonian fauna is that, since the continental island has
been isolated geographically for millennia from the rest of the world,
various species have evolved into unique forms. Another instance of this
isolation is the Galapagos Islands, whose distinct forms of fauna were the
subjects of Charles Darwin’s studies. A much more substantial example is Australia, whose fauna includes many
marsupials that exist nowhere else.
Even though Bergonia is home
for many unique species, and many unique breeds and variants of other
species which are not to be found anywhere else, there are unaccountably
present in Bergonia many species which are also indigenous to either North
America or Eurasia. North American and Eurasia are at least connected by
the Bering Straits crossing. The Bering straits is only sixty miles wide.
By contrast, Bergonia is over five hundred miles away from the nearest
land mass-- in fact the most isolated of all the land masses not counting
New Zealand. Conventional earth science maintains that Bergonia has been
isolated from the rest of the world’s land masses since before the
Cenozoic Age, the time in which all mammals came into their present form.
How the bear, the deer, the raccoon and other Nearctic species came to be present on
Bergonia is a mystery. How sheep and goats came to be on Bergonia is
even a greater mystery.
Some Bergonians look to ancient
native myths for the answer, which refer to the ancient Atlantean
super-continent. Most versions say that highly civilized peoples
lived there and colonized the rest of the world, which would allow for no
end of species transmigrations-- as has happened since the age of European
exploration and colonization, not to mention global capitalism. Some
versions of the tale say Atlantis was connected to other parts of the world by a land
bridge. Conventional science laughs at all this. Conventional science,
however, fails to explain many other things as well. He who has no
explanation should be careful to condemn the man who does. Although
the man who does have an explanation should not take it very seriously.
oceanic waters team with sardines, tuna, swordfish and flounder.
bays and harbor yield up copious amounts of shrimp and other
shellfish. There are plenty of flying fish, shark, and dolphins in
In the Birikun and
the other coastal bays and waters along the coast of Amota
(eastern Berg) one finds huge quantities and varieties of shellfish.
The two bays of Clacupo in the west also contain sizeable quantities of
shellfish, although industrial pollution from the many cities ringing the
bays killed much of it and made the rest unfit to eat. Even now,
although the two bays are now vastly cleaner than they were just 30 years
ago, the environmental authorities have not approved the shellfish ready
for human consumption because of mercury
levels. Bergonians, of course, are much more sensitive about mercury
poisoning than Americans.
Between Pasiana in
the northeast and the Azores lies the biggest breeding ground in the
Atlantic for the sperm whale. Some Pasans rose canoes over the
waters in pre-columbian times to hunt the whales, as did the Indians of
British Columbia. Later the French, particularly the Huguenots,
became adept at whaling. Under the Bergonian flag a great whaling
industry grew all along the north coast, rivaling the whaling industry in
Now of course the whales are protected under Bergonian
law. Bergonia has designated a "no whaling" zone in a wide
stretch of the North Atlantic. Of course the other nations of the
world maintain that this unilateral action violates the Law of the Seas
and all other international law. But the Bergonian policy-makers
since the "Greening" have used the "no whaling"
zone as an important test of national will. A number of Japanese and
Norwegian whalers have been intercepted at sea and seized. There
have been shrill complaints, but the Bergonians don't care.
lowland bird populations, similar to the birds of Caribbean region,
include herons, egrets, turkey vultures, ospreys, hawks, coots,
cormorants, cuckoos & doves. See Cuban
Bird Species for general info, also a List
of Cuban Bird Species The highlands birds are similar
to birds of the Southeastern United States. Thrushes,
woodpeckers and blackbirds live island-wide.
Migratory birds: Many of the
native species migrate. Some species spend summers in eastern
Canada and fly to Bergonia in the winter. A few species spend
winter in Bergonia and fly south to Venezuela or Brazil.
Ample evidence exists in the archeological record--depictions painted
on surviving pottery shards, bone fragments found in early ruins,
linguistic evidence-- that Bergonians had domesticated turkeys in
Neolithic times. They have always constituted an important part
of the atrei diet.
These grand birds totally mesmerized the Bergonian imagination.
They equated it with religious power. Ierecina
and all the Minor Prophets were of the Eagle Clan. In his great
miracle, he transformed into an eagle. There are bald eagles,
and a native species called the Korletle Eagle.
Rodents & other
a rodent animal as large as a very large guinea
pig, and looking very similar. It is forest dwelling, fast on its
feet, and elusive, and eats nuts, seeds, fruit and roots.
The pre-columbian atrei considered its meat a
delicacy, and was domesticated, but it is not much eaten these
they are domesticated as children's pets.
Children have always loved them. For centuries their cartoon faces have adorned cribs, toys and
art. The ancient Ceiolaians accuse the even-more-ancient Kuans of
making their children love Sheias as pets but then making them
strangle, slaughter, cook and eat their pets upon reaching the age
of 14, the age of initiation in traditional Berg societies.
The Ceiolaians, being civilized people, naturally doted on their
Today children watch Shu-Shu-Sheia, a mischievous cartoon hero
who rescues stolen toys for children and runs off bad guys. He
wears a wide-brimmed straw hat, common among the atrei for centuries, with
a big red hawk-feather sticking up.
The Seupu , a small rodent very
similar to the South American Agouti. It lives in the
woodlands and thrives on leaves, roots,, nuts and fruits. It
swims remarkably well, and very fast afoot. Because of its
meat it was hunted in pre-columbian times. because it was so
hard to catch, many people tried. Only patience and guile
would work. At least ten breeds of seupu exist, with all
combinations of furry colors. The largest breed reaches
eighteen inches in length (minus tail).
The Bergonian variety is very much like the North American variety, but
smaller, reflecting the natural diminutive tendency of Bergonian fauna in
Shu-Shu-Sheia sometimes likes to
arrange to have his pranks blamed on Putishi, the sad-faced possum girl.
Shu-Shu-Sheia rescued poor hapless and
not-too-bright Putishi from the Boar, from the Farmer-Man (with his
pitchfork and his collection of sharp-edged farm implements), and from a host
of other villains. But when the two are cornered by the pack of
Namon hounds (see below), it was Putishi who snapped her teeth and
challenged the dogs, while Shu-Shu-Sheia squealed and scampered
about. In post-modern send-ups, Putishi after taking all kinds of
abuse gets to knock the crap out of Shu-Shu-Sheia.
a unique animal, looks like a big
red long-tailed squirrel, nocturnal, with bulging amber eyes and a long jointed
finger, more developed than a raccoon's paw, very serviceable for
grasping tree limbs. The fingers also enable the Bisceri to
dig and claw dead wood and earth for grubs, larvae and bugs. They live on the ground and in burrows, but climb trees.
This critter bears resemblance to the aye-aye (daubentonia
madagascariensis), an extremely rare squirrel-like primate in
the Madagascar. Both animals are nocturnal, arboreal, and solitary.
the aye-aye has but one finger of its front paw for use in tearing
into wood, but the Bisceri uses all four fingers, and all-in-all
enjoys more dexterity in the trees.
Some natives of Madagascar maintain
that anyone anyone who eats an aye-aye will die within a year's
time. The ancient Bergonians entertained the superstition that
eating Bisceri meat guarantees one solid year of bad luck.
Both animals thus enjoy protection from legends.
This old tale is
told: A particularly prideful trapper once found a Bisceri in
one of his traps. He took it home and ordered his wife to cook
it up for dinner. She argues and he insisted. His
friends stopped by and argues with him, but he insisted. His
neighbors heard the commotion, came over, and they argued with him,
but he insisted. The wife produced the desired meal, but no
one would eat of it except the stubborn trapper. He
proclaimed, "This meat is delicious." Within the
next year a falling tree crushed his wife, leaving him with small
children, thieves rustled his sheep, he lost all his
possessions in an unlucky dice game, his housed caught fire and one
of his children burned up. His friends greatly pitied
him. A few days before the anniversary of the Bisceri feast
his friends went to speak to him. "Surely your luck will
change now; let us throw you a dinner." But suddenly a
preba-cat jumped out of the nearby woods and attacked the trapper,
ignoring the other men. The preba slashed the trapper before
the other men could run it off. They carried their
badly-wounded friend back to his house, but they could all see that
he would not live. As he lay on his death-bed, he said,
"well, I'll tell you the truth now, that Bisceri was the worst
tasting thing I ever ate."
Tapirs are shy, reclusive hoofed animals that live in nearly any
wooded or grassy habitat with a permanent supply of water. They have
also been found in dry deciduous forests and mountain forests.
The Bergonian specie is small, the size of a small donkey. Their body
is rounded in back and tapering in front-- suited for rapid movement
through thick underbrush. They also have a very short tail. Tapirs have
bristly hairs scattered all over the body. This specie is solidly dark
brown or gray in color. Tapirs have a short, fleshy proboscis formed
by the snout and upper lips. Tapir eyes are small and flush with the side
of the head; their ears are oval, erect, and not very mobile.
Tapirs have one offspring after a gestation of about 13-14 months.
Young of all four species have striped markings which are lost after the
first 6 months of life. The young are weaned after 10-12 months, and
sexual maturity is reached at about 2-4 years. Tapirs live for
approximately 30 years.
Tapirs are exclusively herbivorous, sheltering in thickets by day and
emerging at night to feed in bordering areas of grasses or shrubs. They
eat the leaves, buds, twigs and fruits of low-growing, terrestrial plants
and also consume aquatic vegetation. They are very good swimmers and are
fond of splashing in water and wallowing in mud. They are essentially
solitary except for females with offspring.
Tapirs have been extensively hunted for food and sport in some areas,
although some Indian tribes refuse to kill tapirs for religious reasons.
They have been known to damage corn crops and other grains, although they
are not in general considered a pest species.
in traditional Bergonia
based on animal