December 4, 2009

'It's a very strange world we live in, Master Jack' by Garth Edwards


On a return trip to the EcoTraining camp from the gate at Selati, I encountered a small herd of these grey ghosts and took a bearing on their line of march. On entering camp, I rounded up the students that had not seen elephant and we sped off in pursuit. The thermometer was nudging 40 degrees and the elephants, in my opinion, were heading towards a favoured spring. We headed straight there and parked in the shade of a knob thorn to await their arrival. Impatient, I decided to investigate the spring, 100 metres off the road, for signs of their presence.


I sighted a massive bull giraffe resting under another knob thorn and spoke to him, trying to reassure him that I was only passing and meant no harm. He fled, crashing through the bush and taking other young males along in his flight. I continued on to the spring, passing by where he had been standing. A flattened fawn-coloured shape lay in the shade and I began to back off believing that I had stumbled upon a new-born impala. I had, but there was something wrong. This was where that giraffe had been standing. The dusty earth and dead grasses had been churned up and I sensed something out of place and approached. Fresh, scarlet brain-blood had flowed from the baby impala's nostrils to pool thickly in the footprint of a bull giraffe. Lines of gelatinous amniotic fluids streaked the dust and remnants of the foetal sac were still attached to its skin.


A low-voiced grunting caught my attention and I looked up. Females impalas stood, across the spring's drainage line, watching me as I inspected the carcass; one of theirs gone without a chance at life. I returned to the vehicle to bring the students and their cameras. On closer inspection, the mandible of the impala had been smashed, its incisors kicked from their place and hanging loosely. It appeared that the bull had taken umbrage to this presence of innocence and had kicked the new-born to death!
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