When Cheetah First Cried

When Cheetah First Cried is a retelling of an African folk story that explains why cheetahs have two vertical lines on their faces.

When Cheetah First Cried is a retelling of an African folk story that explains why cheetahs have two vertical lines on their faces.

When Cheetah First Cried

Each day at dusk or dawn, when even the sun looked away and the wind only whispered, a cheetah left her nest hidden in the tall, dry grass to go hunt food for her cubs. She would give each one a gentle nudge, press her soft nose against their fluffy heads, take in their sweet scent, like any mother would, purr a quiet warning, then tiptoe across the grassland.

And each day at dusk and dawn, when the sun looked away for the cheetah went hunting, a man stooped by a tree and watched. He was a hunter too, from his own tribe.

The man watched with narrow eyes how cheetah lazily pranced across the field, how she seemed to stretch, careless, then lick her mouth at the sight of the Impala herd. How she lowered her head, watching the beautiful gazelles, choosing well and picking only the juicier one. ‘Hmph!’ the man-hunter often exclaimed, spitting in the sand at his feet, near a hunting bag filled with air. ‘Ever since our tribe was forced in this dry corner of grassland we’ve been beggars. And beggars can’t be choosers, like this wa chini.’ Then he pressed his fists in the small of his back and stretch, mimicking the cheetah. And just as the cheetah was now craning her neck, the man extended his and held his breath for he knew what came next.

The chase.

Impala and cheetah sprang at once. The gazelle, racing for its life, dashing, jumping, floating above the earth as if its life depended on it. The cheetah accelerating at an angle, its feet four times as strong, as fast; its tail swishing and swiping from behind, closing in and sprinting for victory.

‘Argh!’ exclaimed the man-hunter. The hunt never lasted much. The cheetah always won. There was always food to take home to her cubs. Unlike him. ‘Pshaw,’ he spat again, then picked up his empty bag and dragged it after him, almost crawling towards his village. But after two steps he stopped. He lifted his head and straightened his spine. No one saw his face, for none was around, but a bird. There was a snigger on it that pulled the corners of his thin, cracked lips upwards, in a non-human mask.

He knew what he had to do.

To allow for a steady supply of food for his village, of course.

Cheetah, in Afrikaans is Jagluiperd,   Direct translation: Hunting lazy horse
Cheetah, in Afrikaans is Jagluiperd – direct translation: hunting lazy horse

The next day, when the cheetah went hunting, the man was waiting. Yet not by the tree, but hidden in the dry grass, not far from the cheetah’s nest. Yet far enough to be out of the wind’s way.

And after cheetah nudged her pups, sniffed their soft heads, and left in search of food, the man closed in, keeping as low as the grass. Without thinking twice he picked the three cheetah cubs and pushed them in his hunter’s bag, stuffing them inside, then closing the flap over, squeezing the bag to his chest to muffle their cries and running back to his village. Always bent over, always looking over his shoulder. Will the cheetah know? Will she hear her brood crying? Will she come after him? Is she at his heel already?

Goody, he’s made it!

That evening when cheetah returned with dinner for her cubs she found the nest empty. She sniffed around, the scent of her cubs still strong, yet no downy heads popped up to welcome her; no tiny, raspy tongues; no hungry yelps of joy, no tugs of war. And, like any mother, the cheetah cried. And she cried. And when the sun went up it found her crying, and when the moon came up it found her crying still.

Meanwhile, in the man’s village, the three cubs were tied to a pole for all to see the great plan of the man-hunter.

‘They will hunt for us,’ he would strut around, explaining his grand idea. ‘Three gazelles a day. There will be food aplenty,’ he would say, looking taller than anyone had ever seen him before.

The cheetah was still crying when a thin man approached her. He was so skinny and so old that he had no fear of being hunted, for he had no fear of death. Besides, he knew all too well that he looked like a wandering pile of sticks rather than a human being.

The skinny, old man approached the crying cheetah and asked what has happened. For nobody has ever seen a crying cheetah before, nor has anyone ever heard of one. On hearing what happened to her cubs the man made it for the village right away and the wind even stirred, they say, to give the old man a gentle push, to aid him reach the settlement sooner.

Three things happened next.

The man-hunter lost his right to hunt for having dishonored his people’s honest hunting tradition, that honored skill and respect for other hunters.

The man-hunter was sent to return the cubs to mother cheetah, while all the time crying and praying he won’t end up a prey himself. He didn’t, for the cheetah was too happy to be reunited with her cubs to even think of revenge.

The cheetah stopped crying, but having cried for so long two vertical dark lines remained along her face, from the inner corners of her eyes to the sides of her mouth.

This is the story of when the cheetah first cried and why the cheetah has two dark lines down her face.

© Patricia Furstenberg, inspired by an old African legend

cheetah and dog can become friends - when cheetah first cried, a story
A cheetah and a dog can become friends

Why cheetahs need to live in the wild?

If a cheetah was born and raised in captivity, when released in the wild will hunt smaller giraffes, her hunting instinct having been altered. A cheetah growing in the wild will learn from her mother to hunt a bigger prey.

Yet not too big either.

At times, a cheetah born and raised in captivity, when released in the wild was observed trying to attack a buffalo. This is wrong and it will never be a success, as cheetah’s jaws and teeth are not designed to deal with such a large prey.

Discover the story of how the cheetah and the dog became friends:

the cheetah and the dog, best children's books

Read inside also how were cheetahs built to live in the wild and why carnivore animals are seldom seen together?

the cheetah and the dog. Read inside also how were cheetahs built to live in the wild and why carnivore animals are seldom seen together?
Image preview from The Cheetah and the Dog

Kinda Pink, Poetry Like a Puppy’s Tongue

Kinda pink rose poetry

Enjoy reading this kinda pink, humorous poetry just like a puppy’s tongue. I do hope it will please most dog and nature lovers too, as it is accompanied by square photos of pink roses we are lucky to enjoy in our garden.

“I hear children laughing in the yard today,

I hear puppy barking, I hear a horse’s neigh.

The chickens are peeping, “all is good!

“It’s a birthday party; we’ll get bits of food.”

And puppy’s tail wiggles;

He sees IT… It is loose!

It’s oval, it bounces, it floats away,

It’s pink like his tongue, it wants to play!”

pink rose like a puppy's tongue and a poem

“I’m coming!” barks pup and off he goes.

Down the hill the pink shape flows

And puppy follows suit. It’s just within his reach,

Just above his nose.

As pink as a rose, yet as light as snow,

While puppy’s paws drum on the ground below.

Floating shape and furry dog, they’re one with the day,

It’s summer, I hear a donkey bray, “let’s play!”

“I’ll catch you! Just wait!”

And puppy jumps once more.

“Whoosh!” blew the wind, just as pup’s mouth came near,

And up flew the pink ball, as fast as a spear.

While puppy lands with a loud “splash”

Right in the pond, in the green, slimy marsh.”

“A drippy, green form comes out.

Where is pup?

The green form just drips, his ears lay low,

He stands on his feet, yet his heart sinks below…

The green form sighs twice, then looks up at the sky

Where the pink balloon flies away, its tail saying “bye-bye.”

And puppy whimpers.

And sneezes, once.

The children still play, up on the hill, all the way up.

How will he climb all the way back? He’s but a pup.

“Come here, you silly boy,” Mom picks him up;

She’s got a blanket; she gets him all cleaned up.

“The balloon might fly up with the wind,

But I’ve got my Mom to cuddle with.”

As Good as Gold, poetry for dog lovers

The above poem is titles As Pink As a Puppy’s Tongue and is an extract from my poetry book for dog lovers (and not only) As Good As Gold.

Squarres Photography

Kinda Pink, Poetry Like a Puppy’s Tongue is a contribution to Becky’s incredible October Squares #KindaSquare blog feature.

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Die Fennek of Woestynjakkals, the Fennec or Desert Jackal and a Story

Die Fennek of Woestynjakkals, Jackal

Die Fennek of Woestynjakkals, or the Fennek or Desert Jackal, is the second story in die babadiertjies van Afrika, baby animals from Africa series, and for your reward you can also read The Jackal and the Lion, a Khoisan folktale, down below.

Die Fennek of Woestynjakkals, babadiertjies van Afrika

Hierdie woestynjakkalse is wilde diere, maar hulle maak steeds vriende met die honde van die Arabiere wat in die woestyn woon. Nogtans word woestynjakkalse nooit heeltemal mak nie, en raak hulle ook nooit ontslae van hulle sluwe, agterdogtige natuur nie. Die geringste verdagte geluidjie laat hulle halsoorkop op die vlug slaan.

Vir die jong jakkalsie is dit van die allergrootste belang dat hy baie gou vyande soos gevaarlike insekte, skerpioene en dies meer moet kan uitken en vermy. Dan moet daar ook aan hom geleer word hoe om ‘n grondverskuiwing te laat plaasvind. Dit is baie belangrik dat hy moet weet hoe om sy eie grondtonnel blitsvinning te laat intuimel as die een af ander giftige slang of ongedierte hom probeer volg.

Om in die barre woestyn te kan bly voortbestaan, moet hierdie dier feitlik alles eet. So bestaan sy dieet uit klein knaagdiertjies, insekte, voëltjies en selfs voëleiers as hy dit in die hande kan kry.

Water is skaars, en daarom leer die klein jakkalsie baie gou dat hy die bloed van sy liggaam te verskaf.

As hy eers volgroeid is, staan die woestynjakkals ongeveer veertig sentimeter hoog. Sy pels is dik en het ‘n goudbruin kleur. Sy ore is spits en hy het twee donker vlekke naby sy oë.

Hierdie diere is nagadiere. Soms sal die klein jakkalsies, terwyl hulle wag dat hulle ouers vir die jag gereed moeet maak, heerlik saam vir die maan sit en tjank. Vir alle ander jakkalse in die omgewing is dit dan die teken om by die jagparty te kom aansluit.

Die woestynjakkals, of fennek, word heel selde buite Afrika aangetref. Vroeër jare is hulle gevang en na dieretuine oorgeplaas, maar hulle het nog selde die koue oorleef. Hulle treur hulle letterlik dood or die warm, sonnige woestynwêreld waar hulle vandaan kom.

(Charl Durand, Unsplash)

The Fennec or Desert Jackal, baby animals from Africa

The fennec or the desert jackals are wild animals, but they still make friends with the dogs of the Arabs who live in the desert. Yet desert foxes never get completely tamed, nor do they ever lose their cunning, suspicious nature. At the slightest strange sound they get spooked and make a run for it.

For the young Fennec it is of utmost importance that he learns from a very young age how to identify and avoid his enemies, such as dangerous insects, scorpions and the like. Then he must also be taught how to cause a landslide… This skill is very important during his defense, as desert jackals hide in underground tunnels if a poisonous snake or vermin attempts to follow him.

In order to survive in the barren desert, the Fennec has adapted by eating virtually everything. So his diet consists of small rodents, insects, birds and even bird eggs if he can get his paws on them.

Water is scarce here, therefore the little fox learned quickly to make use of any resources that will increase the liquids his body needs.

Once fully grown, the desert fox stands about forty centimeters high. Its fur is thick and has a golden brown color. His ears are pointy and he has two dark spots near his eyes.

These animals are rodents. Sometimes the baby desert jackal, while waiting for their parents to get ready for the hunt, will sit and howl together at the moon. This is the sign to join the hunting party and all the other foxes in the area know it.

The desert fox, or Fennec, is rarely found outside Africa. In earlier years many were captured and transferred to zoos around the world, yet they rarely survived the cold weather. In the zoos the Fennec literally feels homesick, missing his African lifestyle and the warm, sunny desert world he come from.

Image courtesy Geran de Klerk, Unsplash)

The Jackal and the Lion, a Story from the Khoisan Folklore

Once upon a time, long ago, when humans still foraged for food, Jackal was scurrying through a narrow, rocky pass in the Omatako Mountains, today’s Namibia.

He was half laughing at himself over how silly humans were to give this mountain such a hilarious name, for its two tops, looking like buttocks, gave way to its name, Omatako Mountains. Snickering and sniffing Jackal was, trying to find something juicy to eat, perhaps caught underneath a rock or burried shallow, to fill his growling stomach and quench his thirst. When his eye suddenly caught some movement ahead of him, in the pass.

Something that shouldn’t have been there.

Jackal froze in his tracks. And swallowed hard, his tail already tucked between his hind legs. The mighty Lion, his mane glowing under the setting sun, was coming straight toward him. Had Lion gotten bigger since I last saw him? thought Jackal to himself.

Out of the corner of his eye Jackal looked left, then right. There was no way of escape! And his hind legs trembled a little. Jackal cursed his streched muscles, not allowing his fright to steal into his mind. But a claw clutched at his heart already.

Alas! He’d lost count of all the tricks he’d played on the king of animals over the years… Was this it? Will he pay today, of all the days? Will Lion prove to be just a beast and use this sudden encounter to get his revenge?

A breeze tickeled Jackal’s nose, carrying with it the scent of open planes, of the Namib desert. Of freedom. That Jackal loved above everything else. So he thought of a plan.

His tail left its place of safety and swiped the dirt behind its feet, sending it up the cliff. When it rolled down, Jackal howeld.

‘Help! Help!’ cried Jackal and crowched, half crawling half sliding down the cliff, looking back at every other step.

Lion stopped, an eyebrow lifted. Annoyance? Surprise?

‘Help!’ Jackal yelled again and looked over his shoulder at the boulders piling high. ‘The rocks are about to tumble over and crush us. Oh, great Lion, I am but a mere wild dog, but you, the king of animals, with your great strengh, you can save us! And all beasts will learn of your bravery and praise you.’

Then he looked back again and yelped for help again, covering his head with his paws.

On hearing this and seeing how destraught Jackal was, Jackal who was always laughing and joking, Lion looked up at the towering rocks, feeling most alarmed. But pretending he is as cool as ever.

‘Oh, great Lion, put your shoulder to the rock and prevent the mountain from tumbeling over, for only you can do it,’ yelped Jackal further.

So Lion, without giving it a second thought, put his strong shoulder against the rock. To heave and stop the mountain from rolling over.

‘Oh, great king, thank you!’ yelped Jackal, ‘for you have saved us. Let me fetch that spear over there and we will use it to prop the mountain.’

And with that he sprang out of sight.

Lion waited and waited, shouldering the mountain and trying his best to chase away the flies, but he had only his tail as a weapon. All the time listening, waiting to hear Jackal’s footsteps.

When the last rays of the setting sun became blunt and their heat turned to a gentle embrace, Lion felt as if the weight of the mountain was resting on his shoulders. So much so that his hind legs were trembling and heat grew inside his chest, ready to erupt in his throat.

While Jackal was already reunited with his folk, all laughing and admiring his cunningness and bravery.

Now in Afrikaans: Drie populêre kinderboeke, nou beskibaar in Afrikaans. Helder en kleurvolle illustrasies en beminlike karakters wat opwindende avonture deel. Vir kinders en ouers om saam te geniet.

Die Leeu en die Hond
Die Olifant en die Skaap
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond

multicultural kids books

I hope you enjoyes die Fennek of Woestynjakkals, the Fennec or Desert Jackal from babadiertjies van Afrika, animal cubs from Africa series.

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The Story of the Giant Radish

the story of the giant radish

The Story of the Giant Radish sprang to my mind today, while I was seeing to our mini vegetable garden. It might be a children’s story, but it illustrates the power of many, when they are working together.

As a child I always wondered about this giant radish. How can it grow so big? And what meals can one possibly cook, since there is so much of it? Anyway, over here we eat radishes in salad, and we eat the leaves too since they come from our garden and I know they are, hmm, organic.

Before I share with you the story of the Giant Radish I must confess that, luckily for us, hubby has green fingers, mine are usually full of ink. But I can pull weeds, an addictive activity in case you were wondering.

The Story of the Giant Radish

The Story of the Giant Radish

Once upon a time there lived an old man who enjoyed tending to his vegetable garden.

One morning he decided to plant radishes. He prepared their beds, planted the seeds and watered them. Day after day he watered the seeds and pulled out the weeds, no matter how sore his back would get. And while he took a break from work, he’d pull out his whistle to play a song. Alongside his garden birds.

And every now and then he would stop from his work and from his music-making to look at the sky. And he would admire the blue roof of the world until his eyes grew full of it, and he couldn’t keep them open any longer.

And he did so day after day, while his radishes grew.
And they grew.
Until one morning when the old man stepped into his yard and couldn’t believe his eyes. One of his radishes was bigger than the rest. Much bigger. Much, much bigger.

The old man couldn’t believe his eyes. He couldn’t believe his luck. He walked around it once. He walked around it twice. The radish was almost as tall as he was and twice as wide.

Indeed, twice as wide.

He rubbed his hands and made up his mind. He was going to pull it out. So he took a good grip onto its long leaves, minding little that they pricked his hands, and pulled. And he pulled and then pulled some more. Yet the radish wouldn’t yield.

So the old man called his old woman to help him.

She was very proud of him for growing such a giant of a radish. She was already thinking of all the food she will be able to cook out of that one radish. So she grabbed his waistcoat, and the old man grabbed the radish leaves again. And they both pulled. And they pulled.

But the radish didn’t budge, so they thought and they thought and then called their grand daughter to help.

So the granddaughter grabbed the old woman’s waist coat, the old woman grabbed the old man’s waistcoat, and the old man grabbed the radish leaves again. Not minding that they pricked his hands. Wondering how spicy it will be, big as it had grown.

And all three pulled. And they pulled.
Yet the radish would not yield.

So the granddaughter thought and she thought and she called their dog, who was snoozing under a tree, bored that there was nothing to bark at.

Dog grabbed the granddaughter’s jacket, the granddaughter grabbed the old woman’s waist coat, the old woman grabbed the old man’s back, and the old man grabbed the radish leaves once more. Not minding in the least that they prickled his hands.

And all four pulled. And they pulled. And they pulled some more, yet the radish wouldn’t move.

Eventually they stopped pulling and Dog, after panting a while, barked and called Cat. Who was sleeping on the window-sole, bored that there were no mice around for her to chase.

‘Come and help, Cat,’ barked Dog.

‘I don’t have time’, Cat complained. ‘I sleep.’

But Dog barked till Cat joined them.

So Cat grabbed Dog’s tail, Dog took hold of the granddaughter’s coat, the granddaughter grabbed the old woman’s waist coat, the old woman grabbed the old man’s back, and the old man grabbed the radish leaves once more.

Not minding in the least that they prickled his hands.

Yet the radish, still, would not budge.

So, when they all stopped pulling and grandma went to the well to fetch them all some fresh, sweet water, after the old man wiped his forehead with his handkerchief he kept for best, and Dog went to rest in the shade, Cat stretched, arched her back and called Mouse.

In his burrow at the end of the vegetable garden Mouse trembled a bit. Did someone wanted his cheese? So he gobbled it up before coming out.

So… Mouse grabbed Cat’s tail, Cat grabbed Dog’s tail, Dog took hold of the granddaughter’s coat, the granddaughter grabbed the old woman’s waist coat, the old woman grabbed the old man’s back, and the old man grabbed the radish leaves once more.

Forgetting all about their prickly leaves.

And they all pulled and pulled, never giving up till the radish gave up and came out of the ground. Whole. And big.

And they all cheered.

Only one individual might have no strength, but two have twice as more power and many are sure to be victorious together.

The Cheetah and the Dog, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Lion and the Dog, diversity stories
The Cheetah and the Dog, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Lion and the Dog, diversity stories by Patricia Furstenberg

Theory of Mind: Each Animal Has a Story to Tell

theory of mind

I believe that, just as each one of us has a story to tell, each animal has one, too. It all comes down to the POV (point of view).

As humans, our cultural background and experiences influence the way we understand and interact with the world. We see and perceive animals from a rather self-centered, oblivious point of view, based on personal (humanoid) knowledge (as a human), EQ (emotional intelligence) and, of course, inhibitions and phobias. But there are millions of animal species known to man, out of which over 5 000 species are mammals. Chances are we will only meet and interact with a fraction of them.

Theory of Mind Each Animal Has a Story to Tell

About dogs (world’s most popular pets), we known that they respond to human praise, but also choose human praise over a food treat. We know that they miss their (human) owners and often suffer when they are away from them. In Kenya, elephant families have been observed to pull together while struggling to survive drought and poaching. In other parts of the world wolf packs have been observed to adopt the cubs left without parents. A calve will stay with its dolphin mother as long as eight years; because they are so social, dolphins live in pods of up to 1000 members. That’s a small town!

Now let’s change the point of view.

How do animals perceive us? As friends or as enemies? What do animals feel? They do look angry at times, they seem to grief, to show empathy, to feel joy. But what goes through their minds? What goes through a dog’s mind (and heart) when one of his puppies is removed from the litter? What is a mother elephant actually saying when she rumbles and trumpets to protect her calf? I love listening to the morning birds, their chirp is peaceful and soothing, but what are they actually saying to each other?

Do animals have beliefs of their own? Do they act on intend? Do they use their knowledge and plan ahead? And if they do so, are we, humans, really “getting it” or do we miss the point all together?

Theory of Mind Each Animal Has a Story to Tell

Perhaps our children are the ones closest to finding an answer. Children are naturally open to this concept of “theory of mind” (the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, emotions, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and to others), as well as to learning about it. Attributing an animal desires and intents similar to their own is a characteristic behavior for a child. Children are tuned in and they do “get” the animals’ language.

The fact that children attempt eye contact more often than grown-ups might also facilitate a kid’s closer understanding of animal language. Eye contact between humans and dogs is paramount for a successful social interaction between the two as dogs rely on eye contact when establishing if the communication is relevant and directed at them. Dogs, especially, establish eye contact when they cannot solve a problem on their own.

Watching animals interact and understanding them is a learning curve for any human. It is an exercise on acknowledging that human race is not as superior as we like to believe. Animals do experience the same love and empathy as we do, but they certainly lack the hatred and the grudge that tends to overshadow and hinder us. Perhaps that one of the ways to reduce poaching and animal trafficking is through raising the bar in our knowledge of the animal world around us.

You be the judge, is the theory of mind and the idea that each animal has a story to tell valid?

Theory of Mind Each Animal Has a Story to Tell
Theory of Mind, Each Animal Has a Story to Tell
This little dog is always smiling so i had to capture it and share it with the world.

I’ll end Theory of Mind, Each Animal Has a Story to Tell with this quote from one of my books:

“There was still a cloud of brown dust hovering around the Marines’ khaki shorts, tinting the scene in shades of sepia; a herd of stallions panting, their ears attend, nostrils quivering in expectation.

One of the Marines had picked up the ball, popping it between his arm and hip. Tara’s tail wagged, recognizing her partner and human handler, Seb.

Another Marine slapped Seb’s shoulder in a friendly manner and it was Xena’s turn to snort, recognizing Conde.

Dancing on the spot, Tara blew air through her nose and yapped at Honda in the next cage. Rambo spun around, pacing along the fence. Will Kent get a turn at holding the ball? Will he?

Only Honda cracked a sleepy eye, her tail sweeping the ground once before rolling over onto her back, snorting. Honda enjoyed action as much any dog, but she also knew that the humans did a lot of talking before any action would begin. Until she would sniff Dunn approaching her cage, Honda couldn’t be bothered.”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

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