Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is mad at Hare, folktale part 2

Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is mad at Hare folktale part 2

Following part one, let’s get to the bottom of this and learn Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is Mad at Hare, a humorous retelling of an African folktale that also teaches a lesson or two.

Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is mad at Hare, folktale part 2

There, curled up under a tree, with his feet pulled under his gigantic body, his head resting on one side, his horn pointing sideways, his ears folded back and only his nostrils quivering, gone from this world, slept Rhino.

Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is mad at Hare, folktale part 2

 Rabbit tiptoed closer, completely unnecessary as he knew how deep Rhino could sleep, pulled a leaf from the tree, and tickled Rhino’s nostril. Just for fun. Rhino squealed to complain, still fast asleep, and Rabbit covered his mouth for colossal Rhino sounded just like the teeny puppies he’d spotted by the human’s farm.

Next, Rabbit plucked another leaf and scooped a few Matabele ants, vigilant not to let them crawl on his fur, then ever so careful, while balancing on his tiptoes he let them fall, one by one, into the sleeping Rhino’s ear.

Rabbit quite liked these ants, these diver ants known to pick wars even with the termites, and he quite feared them too. ‘They should do the job quite fine,’ he thought. And in the shadow of the night his front teeth were the only spot to stand out.

Then Rabbit tiptoed away, hiding behind the tree trunk. And not a moment too soon as Rhino jumped from his sleep and the earth shook, some even say it cracked at his feet and the crevice can still be seen today – if you know where to look. Rhino sprang to his feet half-dazed with slumber, half irritated by the ants diving deeper and deeper, crawling round and round into his ear tube. Rhino growled and grunted, grunted and growled, screamed his pain, and trumpeted his anguish while running to the left, running to the right, unsure if the great Zambezi River was the solution or the great baobab nearby.

That’s when Rabbit called out at the top of his voice, while still keeping a safe distance. ‘Shame, what an itch that must be! But help is at hand! Allow me,’ and he came around from behind the bush to get Rhino’s full attention. ‘It will be like pulling out a tooth,’ Rabbit went further.

Rhino stopped from his agitation, still shaking his head, his mouth now clamped shut. ‘Never mind,’ said Rabbit. ‘I’ll use my paw then,’ and he pretended to reach inside Rhino’s ear.

‘So good of you, Rabbit,’ said Rhino, ‘To use your small paws for such a job. Mine, although mighty strong for they support my colossal weight, are too thick.’

‘Mine are just as strong, if not stronger,’ said Rabbit stopping what he was doing and looking down at the light shadows that were his legs, pale white in the moonlight and much lighter than the black Rhino’s ones, completely lost in the shadows.

Rhino grunted, fed up with Rabbit’s chatter and with the ants that were again dancing inside his ear, and eager to have the hare’s help again. Rabbit took the grunt as a defense, one as full-bodied as Rhino was, so he riposted hastily, ‘I’ll prove it to you. Though a tug-of-war,’ and moved away.

The words were still steam leaving Rabbit’s mouth while the cunning long-ears was already tying the other end of the rope around Rhino’s hind leg. Then, with the shadow of a grin stretching his mouth, Rabbit jumped behind the anthill and shouted ‘PULL!’

Rhino pulled, for the ants were squirming in his ear and he wanted them out. He pulled and he ran like his life depended on it. He made it for the forest, away from the anthill, and as he ran the rope stretched like the metal tongues of the Mbira, the musical instrument the humans called ‘the voice of the ancestors.’ The rope stretched and as it did so something anchored it at the opposite end. Something mighty heavy for it forced the Rhino to stop from his chase and it nearly pulled his back leg out of its socket.

as he ran the rope stretched like the metal tongues of the Mbira, the musical instrument the humans called ‘the voice of the ancestors.’

How the Rhino grunted! And how the echo grunted in reply, at the opposite end of the rope. And the more Rhino pulled, the more the rope tensed and something from its opposite end was fighting the Rhino, even pulling the beats towards the shoreline.

Rhino had forgotten all about Rabbit’s boasting by now. And Hippo, who was snoozing while enjoying his juicy grass, had forgotten all about the long-ear’s big mouth as well. Yet here they were, both giants tied to each other through a long rope. Pulling for what they were worth, towards the forest and towards the water. Grunting and bubbling, squealing and growling, making such a commotion that it covered Rabbit’s giggles.

Halfway between the two strong beasts, rolling over with laughter, was Rabbit. So giddy with the outcome of his mischief that he let all worry slip down the ant mound, and he, too, rolled away with it.

The moon was right above Rabbit’s head by now, who looked like a white, round rock on the move. First, it caught Hippo’s eye who gave an all might roar, fed up with Rabbit’s trick and goggle-eyed with outrage. Hearing Hippo’s clamor and catching sight of Rabbit’s glee, Rhino forgot all about the ants when he realized he got played by the hare. So he changed his direction quickly, unbelievably especially giving his massive body, and headed for Rabbit at full speed. While from the lakeside Hippo did the same. How the earth shook. How the night air vibrated with roars of thunder. How lost little Rabbit suddenly looked, for it seemed like he will soon be turned to pulp.

Why Rhino is Grumpy and Hippo is mad at Hare , African hare
The moon was right above Rabbit’s head by now, who looked like a white, round rock on the move.

Something hare hadn’t counted on. Or had he?

But prankster Rabbit hadn’t survived this long by living in fear. So he kept one eye on the roaring, rimmed Rhino, and one eye on the howling, humped Hippo, while his moon-washed, fluffy legs quivered with anticipation, his whiskers pulsating each time the ground shook. Waiting, was he, trembling was his fluffy tail, thumping was his little heart, thudding in his ears… readying himself for the right moment.

From its left, Rhino came charging quickly and deftly. His massive horn seemed to attract the light of the moon like a magnet, pointing towards the skies, as if it was showing Rabbit where he will end, and soon.

From its right, Hippo bulldozed closer and closer while clamping its mouth, its sharp tusks gleaming in the moonlight too, pointing Rabbit towards the possibility of a very spiky ending.

Between them stood Rabbit, shaking with the tremor of the earth, not with fear – as he told the story later, and many times over. And Rabbit stood, not moving, till the right moment, when he jumped forward, giving one of his award-winning leaps.

Rhino, at top speed, crashed headfirst into Hippo, who couldn’t slow down either due to his massive size. Horn against tooth, rhino’s hard skin plates against hippo’s soft skin, hippo’s massive body against Black Rhino’s compact frame.

No winner emerged, just two bruised animals with two wounded egos, and, in the distance, the painted reed frogs and their whistled chorus of laughter.

The following day Rabbit had a sore tummy, sore from laughter, but also big plans to move his residence. Why? Because Rhino’s bad temper (some said because of the ants still lodged in his ear, Rabbit thought that due to his mischief) turned the horned black beast into an impossible neighbor during day time; while at night Hippo scoured the river banks endlessly, still searching for long ears, wanting revenge.
And Rabbit? In search of a new home, away from the enraged Rhino and Hippo, but also away from the farming fields, and away from a sweet, although boring, life.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

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Why African Wild Dogs Hunt Impalas and Zebras, die Afrika Wilde Honde

Why Wild Dogs Hunt Impalas and Zebras, African folktale

African wild dog or die Afrika Wilde Honde in Afrikaans, is a wilding with as many nicknames as, well, a pack of dogs: African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, wild dog, hyena dog, painted wolf, painted dog, or – my favorite – ornate wolf. To the scientific world it is known as Lycaon pictus.

Enjoy the next installment in the series Babadiertjies van Afrika, baby animals from Africa.

Why Wild Dogs Hunt Impalas and Zebras

When the Ndebele people migrated southwards in the 17th century, along the eastern coast of Africa, pushed by winds and floods, they brought with them their colorful geometric patterns, their beads, and their large, bright smiles. A century or so later they were joined by the Nguni people fleeing eastwards, away from the wars of King Shaka in Natal.

Be it a folktale drawn from a hunter’s observations, or a tale meant to teach youngsters a lesson, it is to them that we owe the story of why the wild dogs hunt impalas and zebras.

At the beginning of time, their story goes, right after God had finished creating all His animals and was wiping his brow, His creatures would all play and live together. It was exciting to be alive, to smell the wind and taste the water, to feel the rain on one’s fur – or skin, or scales, or feathers – and to bask in the sun, and wonder at the stars.

So when the first wild dog became sick – it was a mother wild dog tired after taking care of a big litter of pups – naturally that all the other animals showed their concern.

An Impala with softly curved horns went to seek Hare right away, for Hare had great healing knowledge. Hare gave Impala a calabash full of medicine for Mother Wild Dog. Then he warned Impala not to turn back on its way back to Wild Dog’s den.

Why Wild Dogs Hunt in Packs - Hare gave Impala a calabash of medicine for the African Wild Dog mother.
Why Wild Dogs Hunt in Packs – Hare gave Impala a calabash of medicine for the African Wild Dog mother.

Alas, soon Impala’s nostrils flared picking up the fresh scent of a leopard – instinct above all – and she turned back, looking for a safer path. She held the calabash tightly in her mouth, she did, Oxpecker saw her, and everyone knew that Impala and Oxpecker were as close as heat to fire. Matriarch saw her too. Yet the medicine inside the calabash spilled nevertheless, as Hare predicted. Had Impala perhaps leaped too? She could have… poor Impala.

Zebra went to see Hare next, to ask for medicine for Mother Wild Dog. By now word of Impala’s misfortune had reached Hare, so he wasn’t in the least worried that he had to brew the same potion, for the same patient. Yet when he handed the medicine-filled calabash to Zebra, he gave her the same advice. Do not turn back from your path.

Zebra neighed softly in agreement, a small cloud of steam leaving her nostrils in the cool African dawn. Her short mane shook a bit too, and then she was off at a leisurely walk. Not even a drop will she waste, careful as she was not to spill the calabash. She loved Mother Wild Dog who always made sure to share her findings of fresh grass. Tiny clouds of dust lifted as her hooves touched the ground, the earth still full with moisture and morning dew.

On Zebra went, and the shadows were still long. Focused on her path she was, till something caught her eye. A movement in the grass. A long shadow, a slither. Zebra’s long lashes battered against her soft cheek, her nostrils flared, and more of her front teeth showed off for in the grass, near the road, Black Mamba was nesting. Waiting.

Instinct took over and Zebra turned from her path and, no matter how hard she held onto the calabash, it broke. The medicine spilled, a dark patch on the sandy road still visible today, the Ndebele people whisper.

Zebra neighed like she never neighed before, an anguished high-pitched sound. Her ears flicked back and forth, her eye rolled in her head and she even flicked her tail, lifting then lowering it.

It seemed to last forever, and nobody could tell when the Zebra’s neigh stopped and when the dog’s yelping and howling started. For the Wil Dogs’ den was right behind the turn in the road. The den where Mother Wild Dog lay sick.

Alas, they all knew that the terrible had happened. Mother Wild Dog did not make it.

Wild Dog stepped outside his den and saw Zebra standing over the broken calabash just like he’d seen Impala the day before. Next, Wild Dog howled, and as he lowered his head the call turned into a cackle of laughter, then a rumble of short raspy shouts.

In a blink of an eye another wild dog joined the call, then another, and another. It was heartbreaking to listen, yet everyone knew that things will not end there.

It didn’t, for to this day Wild Dog and his family chase and hunt Impalas and Zebras, this being their revenge for the death of Mother Wild Dog, who could have been saved if only Impala and Zebra would have listened to Hare’s advice and not turn back from their path.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

African Wild Dog

African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, wild dog, hyena dog, painted wolf, painted dog, ornate wolf

Wild dogs live like wolves in a pack led by a male and female pair. Soon, their annual litter becomes the center of their daily lives. The cubs stay with the pack for about two years. Afterwards, some will break away to form their own packs, while others will remain with their mother and father. The average pack consists of ten to fifteen dogs.

AfricanWild Dogs start and end each day with a greeting ceremony, wrestling and playng. If one of the dogs gets hurt, the other dogs will take care of him. They will lick his wounds and bring him food.

But the cubs get the most attention. The mother gives birth to up to fifteen babies. There are a lot of mouths to feed and each member of the pack has to help take care of the cubs. At first the pups stay close to the den and they often have a babysitter while the other dogs hunt. When the big dogs return, they bring along meat for the cubs. Sounds whimsical, and it is, as the little ones love these bits of fresh meat.

Young wild dogs start moving along with the pack from the time they are three months. The older dogs will hide them in the bushes before a hunt and will always fetch them after the prey has been caught. The cubs then stand at the front of the feeding queue.

Herds of wild dogs use all kinds of sounds to talk to each other. They bark, chirp and cry.

At one time there were wild dogs in sub-Saharan Africa almost everywhere, but now they only live in a few places. In South Africa there are only 400 left in the wild and they are southern Africa’s most endangered meat eater. The largest group of wild dogs is located in the Kruger National Park.

Wild dogs live in groups of up to fifty and are very social. They migrate over large areas and that’s why they started colliding with people’s new habitats, as humans started building villages and farming on the wild dog’s land. One way to preserve the wild dog is to release herds into new, safe areas.

Die Afrika Wilde Honde

Why Wild Dogs Hunt Impalas Zebras, an African atmospheric  tale - wild dog and pup

Wildehone leef soos wolwe in ‘n trop wat deur ‘n mannetjie en ‘n wyfie gelei word. Hul jaarlikse werpsel word die middelpunt van hul daaglikse lewe. Die welpies bly vir omtrent twee jaar in die trop. Dan kan party van hulle wegbreek om hul eie trop te vorm, terwyl ander by hul ma en pa blye. Die gemiddelde trop bestaan uit tien tot vyftien honde. Hulle begin en eindig elke dag met ‘n groetseremonie: hulle stoei en speel hasieoor dat dit klap. As een van die honde seerkry, pas die ander honde hom op. Hulle lek sy wonde en bring vir hom kos.

Maar die welpies kry die meeste aandag. Die ma kry ‘n werpsel van tot vyftien babas. Dis ‘n klomp monde om te voer en elke lid van die trop moet help om die welpies te versorg. Eers bly die kleintjies naby die gat en hulle het dikwels ‘n babawagter terwyl die ander honde jag. Wanneer die grotes terugkom, bring hulle vleis vir die welpies op. Klink grillerig, maar die kleintjies is dol oor dié happies.

Jong wildehondebegin op drie maande saam met die trop trek. Die ouer honde steek hulle voor ‘n jagtog in die bosse weg en gaan haal hulle nadat ‘n prooi gevang is. Die welpies staan voor in die tou vir kos.

Troppe wildehonde gebruik allerhande klanke om met mekaar te praat. Hulle blaf, kwetter en huil.

Why Wild Dogs Hunt Impalas Zebras, an African atmospheric  tale

Op ‘n tyd was daar suid van die Sahare byna oral wildehonde, maar nou leef hulle net op ‘n paar plekke. In Suid-Afrika is daar net 400 in die natuur oor en hulle is suider-Afrika se mees bedreigde vleiseter. Die grootste groep wildehonde is in die Kruger-wildtuin.

Wildehonde woon in groepe van tot vyftig saam en is baie sosiaal. Hulle trek oor groot gebiede en dis hoekom hulle met mense begin bots het. Mense het op hul grong begin dorpe bou en boer. Een manier om die wildehond te bewaar, is om troppe in nuwe gebiede los te laat.

~~~

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Die Reusagtige Olifant, The Giant Elephant and the Rain

Die Reusagtige Olifant, The Giant Elephant and the Rain

Die Reusagtige Olifant and The Giant Elephant and the Rain are the next chapter in die babadiertjies van Afrika, baby animals from Africa series you can enjoy here, on my blog.

Jump to:
Die Reusagtige Olifant
The Elephant
The Giant Elephant and the Rain, a Folktale Retold

Die Reusagtige Olifant


Die geboorte van ‘n olifantkalfie is ‘n besondere gebeurtenis in die olifantwêreld. Die hele trop kom kyk gewoonlik hierna, en die moeder het regte olifant – “vroedvroue” wat haar bystaan.

Wanneer hy in die wêreld kom, kan die kalfie ‘n massa van tot ‘n honderd kilogram hê. ‘n Volgroeide olifant het ‘n massa van nagenoeg vyf duisend kilogram, wat hom die wêreld se grootste landdier maak.

Die jong olifantkalf word met ‘n slurpie gebore, maar vir die eerste paar weke van sy lewe is dit ‘n nuttelose liggaamsdeel . Hierdie slurp is eintlik net ‘n lang neus wat die olifant het. Hy gebruik dit om voedsel mee in sy mond in te voer. ‘n Olifant se tande slyt baie gou af omdat hy so ‘n groot hoeveelheid kos moet fynkou.

Hierdie kos is grof en gevolglik word sy maaltande gedurigdeur deur nuwes vervang. Die oues skuif geleidelik meer na agtertoe en dan groei splinternuwe tande in hulle plekke uit. Wanneer hy sestig jaar oud is, het die olifant gewoonlik al ses stele tande gehad. Dan kry hy ook nie weer nuwe tande nie.

Die pragtige voortande van die olifant is sy sierlike wapens wanneer hy om die leierskap van die trop meeding.

Die olifant kan allerhande toertjies geleer word.

Sy oë is swak, maar hy kan baie fyn hoor en ruik. Verder help sy sensitiewe slurp hom om sappige takkies en blaartjes bo van die boomtoppe af te pluk.

In droogtetye grawe olifante met hulle voorpote gate in rivierbeddings en dan slurp hulle die syferwatertjies op.

The Elephant

Die Reusagtige Olifant, The Giant Elephant and the Rain
A matriarch and two elephant calves by a water hole. Photo by Matthew Bradford, Unsplash

The birth of an elephant calf is a special event in the life of a herd of elephants. The entire herd usually comes to assist, and the mother has real elephant – midwives who assist and support her.

When he is born, the calf can weigh up to a hundred kilograms. It sounds like a lot, but an adult elephant has a mass of almost five thousand kilograms, which makes it the world’s largest land animal.

For the first few weeks of its life the baby elephant is quite helpless, and he doesn’t even uses his trunk. Elephants use their trunk, that’s nothing but a long nose, to pick up food and deposit it into their mouth.

Interesting, because the food an elephant eats is pretty coarse, his teeth wear out very quickly as he has to chew such large amounts. So his molars are constantly being replaced by new ones. The old ones gradually move backwards and then brand new teeth grow in their place. By the time he is sixty years old, the elephant can have up to six sets of teeth. After this age he will get no more new teeth.

An elephant’s tusks, his beautiful ivory front teeth, become graceful weapons when he competes for the leadership of his herd.

Elephants are very intelligent and can learn all kinds of tricks, although their eyesight is weak, but they can hear and smell very well. Furthermore, their sensitive trunk helps them to pick juicy twigs and leaves from the tops of the trees. Much like giraffes do.

In times of drought, when water is scarce, the elephants dig holes in riverbeds using their front paws and then swallow the seepage water.

The Giant Elephant and the Rain, a Folktale Retold

A herd of elephants splashing by a water hole. Mist in black and white..Die Reusagtige Olifant, The Giant Elephant and the Rain
A herd of elephants splashing by a water hole. Mist in black and white. Photo by Richard Jacobs, Unsplash

Long ago, when the Sun and the Moon were the best of friend and none even thought to compete over the blue skies, when man still lived in caves and had just learned to make fire, long ago the Elephant was one of the greatest powers of the world. All animals accepted him. Even the African Crowned Crane. And Elephant was a good king. A powerful one too. Except that the Spirit of Rain, was just as powerful.

But although he was kind, being the only leader among all the animals, men included, the Elephant was quite boastful. He enjoyed to remind everyone what a great leader he was. And everyone agreed, over and over, except for the Spirit of the Rain.

Quite often, the boastful Elephant and the Spirit of the Rain fought. It was very noisy. The Elephant, never losing an opportunity to try convince the Spirit of the Rain into agreeing to what a wonderful leader he, the Elephant, was. The Spirit of the Rain, never giving in.

One hot morning, while they were arguing, again, the Spirit of the Rain burst with anger like never before. He sounded like a cascade throwing its waters over the rocks and into the ocean, not like the young spring he once had been.

‘How dare you?’ The Spirit of the Rain bubbled. ‘How dare you, but an Elephant, to think of yourself being more than me? Me, who quenched your thirst. Me, who made the trees grow to feed you. Me, who cooled your skin and that of your entire herd?’ he plummeted further, from the celestial height of its clouds.

At this, the Elephant lifted his trunk, trumpeted twice, then turned around and left, only his little tail swishing, nonchalantly. After a few steps he slowed down and replied, throwing the words over his shoulder, ‘You do not feed me and thus you are wrong in presuming that you do. For I feed myself. With my trunk.’ And to prove his point he picked a bunch of soft leaves from the heights of the closest tree and swallowed them. ‘Hmm, tasty.’

The Spirit of the Rain let out a low rumble that rolled along the entire length of the horizon, then frowned with the darkest clouds one had ever seen. Then he exhaled the chilliest blow, turned and stormed away.

Die Reusagtige Olifant, The Giant Elephant and the Rain. A bull elephant against stormy clouds. Photo by Geran de Klerk, Unsplash
A bull elephant against stormy clouds. Photo by Geran de Klerk, Unspla. Photo by Geran de Klerk, Unsplash

And life went on. Sunny days came, turned into moon-lit nights that rolled into more bright mornings, hotter as the days became weeks, weeks baking into months. And soon, the only smile left was that of the stars. At night.

Had they seen it all? Is that why they beamed? For no one else was.

The land animals were boiling on the hot slopes, water sources reduced to meager ponds not enough to house two fishes. The sea animals were crowded worst than a mall on Christmas Eve would be today. The birds suffered too, out of heat, thirst, withered trees and lack of fruits and insects.

Everyone suffered. Some even pretended they forgot the sight of clouds, the feel of the breeze, the taste of fresh water. Had it even existed? Had it all been a dream?

So they went to see the Elephant. After all, he was their leader. He was the only one who could make it right. Make it rain.

The Elephant did not like to be cornered like that, from the land, from the air, from under the ground. So he tried to shake them off as quickly as he could. And once alone, he called for the majestic Eagle. Who, among others, could make it rain by using only its powerful beak and strong wings.

But the Eagle just shook his head. He was powerless without the clouds.

The Eagle said ‘no more’, he just gave the Elephant a side glance, no more clouds without the Spirit of the Rain.

At this, the Elephant turned red in the face – if this was possible since he was already burning hot. But he shrugged and turned towards the White-breasted Crow, wise old Crow, a bird of many tales…

Crow shook his head, twice left, not in negation but as a twitch he had developed a while back, after the Snaked lost its legs – but this is a story for another time. So Crow shook his head, twice left, and flew away. And no one knew how, but that evening it rained. A bit. Yet it rained.

How animals partied! How they thanked Elephant who was rather full of himself. Again. Basking in the general attention, not for once mentioning Crow’s help.

Until… until one day (actually three days later) when the water that rained was all gone, drank, sipped into the ground, evaporated, and the animals came to Elephant again. To ask for more rain. And the Elephant turned to Crow. But the spot where Crow always stood, the branch he called his own, was empty.

Elephant scratched his head with his trunk. He looked left, searching for Crow, he peered above, he even bent on his front knees and to seek below. But no sign of Crow. Not even a feather. Where was Crow? And what was he to do now? He was alone. Alone he could not make it rain. Alone he could not face all the angry animals. Alone was just that, alone. Cold and lonely, abandoned amidst all the animals that once were his friends.

You might ask about his herd. Well, truth is that Matriarch had taken control over it long ago.

So Elephant did what he should have from the beginning. He turned around and headed for the horizon. And for an opportunity to say he is sorry.

Well, the Spirit of the Rain was not that far away, just at the end of the Savannah. And was very happy to accept Elephant’s apologies, for he, too, was missing the animals, the sea creatures, the green forests and the tiny insects.

But Matriarch, she never abdicated the leadership of the herd. To teach Elephant a lesson or perhaps, perhaps because she quite enjoyed it.

As retold by Patricia Furstenberg, after a Bushman story

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

More elephant stories:

The Elephant and the Sheep

When a lamb meets an elephant calf the two are happy to share a small patch of grass and a tiny water puddle available during the Big-Bad Thirst.

die Olifant en die Skaap

Twee klein stertjies het een dag ontmoet,
Heel per ongeluk onder warm sonstrale het hulle gegroet:
“Hallo, kom ons speel!” met swaaiende sterte wat wys.
Hulle was nie dieselfde nie, tog albei was grys.
Een het groot voete, die ander was korter;
Een glimlag wyd, die ander se mond was kleiner.

Die Onooglike Vlakvark and Why the Warthog is on his Knees

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.

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.

Did you know? In South Africa the The Cape fox (Vulpes chama) is called an asse, cama fox or the silver-backed fox. It is a small fox-like animals, native to southern Africa. It is also called a South African version of a fennec fox due to its big ears.

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