Die Onooglike Vlakvark and Why the Warthog is on his Knees

Die Onooglike Vlakvark, the Strange-Looking Warthog and Why the Warthog is on his Knees is the next story in babadiertjies van Afrika, baby animals from Africa series.

Die Vlakvark, the Warthog, is a really cute animal and he can become quite tame once he learns that food is easily available 🙂 as you can see from these pictures I took during one of our outing in the African bush-veld.

Die Onooglike Vlakvark

Die klein vlakvarkie word in ‘n sorgvuldig uitgesoekte gat of onder die grond gebore. Die toegewyde ouers pas hulle kleingoed baie getrou op. Die ou moedervlakvark sal selfs ‘n olifant aandurf as sy vermoed dat haar kleintjie in gevaar verkeer. Die ou beer het weer die gewoonte om die lêplek agteruit binne te gaan om seker te maak dat geen aanvaller op sy hakke is nie.

Die vlakvark is ‘n baie lelike dier. Hy het ‘n plat kop met yslike groot, krom slagtande en sulke eienaardige, vratagtige uitgroeisels aan sy gesig. Op sy rug langs het hy ‘n maanhaar van herde, stekelrige hare, en sy growwe, grys vel het en daar sulke yl. grys bruin haartjies. Sy gevaarlike slagtande is sy wapens, maar hy gebruik hulle ook om wortels mee uit te grawe. Die vlakvark eet graag boomwortels, gras en selfs voëleiers of klein soogdiertjies. Verder is hy ook lief vir bessies en veldvrugte.

Hierdie dier het baie vyande, en die kleintjies kry dit nie altyd reg om die gevare wat in die lang gras skuil, te ontduik nie. Wanneer gevaar dreig, maak hulle soms of hulle dood is, en sodra die vyand ‘nentjie weg is, laat vat hulle s al wat hulle kan na die opening van hulle blyplek. Die aanvaller skrik gewoonlik só geweldig dat die varkie reeds diep in die veiligheid van die gat is voordat hy weer tot verhaal kom.

Terwyl die klein vlakvarkies wortels en ander lekkernye uitgrawe, ontstaan daar dikwels sulke ‘onderonsies’ tussen hulle, wat dan op luidrugtige wyse uit die weg geruim word.

Die Onooglike Vlakvark and Why the Warthog is on his Knees

The Strange-Looking Warthog

The baby warthog, called a piglet, is born in a carefully selected den underground. The den was made by aardvarks. The devoted warthog parents take good care of their little piglets. The warthog mother. the sow, will even dare an elephant if she thinks her little one is in danger. The warthog often enters his lair backwards to make sure no enemy is on his heels.

The warthog might not be the prettiest of animals. He has a flat head with huge, curved fangs and strange, warty growths on his face, but these are just thick growths of skin, paddings for when males fight during mating season. Along his back the warthog has a mane of long, thick, prickly hair. His skin is coarse and gray and here and there there might be a few sparse gray hairs. His fangs are dangerous weapons, but he also uses them to dig out roots. The warthog likes to eat tree roots, grass and even bird eggs or small mammals. He also loves berries and wild fruits.

This animal has many enemies, and the piglets don’t always manage to evade the dangers lurking in the tall grass. When danger threatens, the warthog piglets often pretend to be dead, and as soon as the enemy is gone they make it for the opening of their den. The attacker is usually so surprised by their sudden awakening that the piglets are already safe before he even recovers and realizes that his meal has run away.

Quarrels often spark between the little warthogs while they dig up roots and other delicacies, but the noisy piglets are dutifully and lovingly silenced by their mother.

a white warthog

Why the Warthog is on his Knees

Warthog was very proud of his cozy home, warm and dry, made in an old termite mound. It had taken him a long tome to get it ready. He had worked and worked on his house through day or night, not knowing of their passing, through rain and thunder, not hearing their rattle, not feeling his muscles aching, nor his tummy growling, never stopping until it was perfect.

And eventually he went out and about. To look for tasty roots, more now for he had a pantry to stuff. To quench his thirst after the long labor. But also to chat. For whenever he was at the watering hole Warthog would brag, to Giraffe, to Gazelle, and to anyone who would listen – or just step within his voice range – brag about how perfect his home was. How his home was the best in the entire world. How it was the coziest, the driest, the darkest, the deepest…

He was particularly proud of its entrance which he dug out a little bit extra, okay, a whole lot extra, spending more time on it than on the rest of his home, to make it very wide and oh so grand.

Till one day when Warthog saw Lion approaching his home and panicked.

“Oh, no! I made my entrance so big and grand, and look at me now! Lion will have no problem following me in,” he cried. “Lion will eat me in my own home!”

a warthog asking a question and a story
a warthog asking a question and for a story

Warthog knew he had to act quickly. But what was to be done? Luckily for him he remembered one of Jackal’s old tricks. So he ran outside, to the side roof his house, and pretended to hold up the roof with his body.

“Help!” soon cried the Warthog, “I am being crushed! Run Lion, before the roof falls.”

But what Warthog didn’t know was that clever Lion had seen this trick before. And he had learned his lesson. And now Lion was roaring mad that the Warthog had tried the old trick on him. He roared so loudly that Warthog fell to his knees. And Warthog begged Lion for mercy, right then and there, by his home he was so proud of and had told everyone about it. Over and over.

So Lion decided that, as a punishment, Warthog should stay like way, on his knees.

“You shall remain on your knees,” the mighty Lion roared. “Or else I’ll come back, storm right through your grand entrance, and eat you.”

And that’s why, to this day, you see the Warthog feeding on his knees while his bottom is in the air and his snout digs in the dirt.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

multicultural kids books

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.

16 Replies to “Die Onooglike Vlakvark and Why the Warthog is on his Knees”

  1. What a cute legend. I read it with a pang in my heart because I didn’t want the warthog to be eaten by the lion, but all was well in the end. 🙂

    1. Oh, yes, I cheered for the little warthog too. They can become quite tame,you know, especially if they learn that food is easily available! 😉

      1. Do people eat them? Are they as good as a domesticated pig? I feel pity for them. I don’t want my food to look so cute.

          1. Are they that friendly? The warthog from the first pic looks like he accepted your invitation to coffee. 🙂

            1. Well, I kept my distance, Jo 🙂 Those fangs are small, but mighty sharp.
              But, like any hog, if scraps are available he’ll place that spot on his restaurant map 🙂

            2. 😀 Nice image. Now I wonder how many stars your restaurant has in the warthog’s view.

            3. Oh, I think it just lost a few… 😉
              We made sure not to feed them (sounds cruel, I know). They are wild animals after all and surely they should stick to their diet of roots and berries.

            4. No, no not cruel at all. I too think that it’s better not to interfere with wild life. Not that I have much wild life in Bucharest. 🙂 So only one star, huh? 🙂

            5. There are pigeons everywhere. I put breadcrumbs for them on the windowsill and I noticed that they ruined my mosquito net. Jo’s Restaurant is closed for business. 🙂

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