Sunday, December 16, 2012

Anecdotes for Animals (Hippo Edition)

I have been on more than my fair share of game drives. On each of these game drives, the guides share tidbits of information on the wildlife. I soak this up. Combine that with the fact that I have read and researched about all of the animals that inhabit Botswana and what you're left with is a person that could practically lead the wilderness tours herself. Yes, I am a "Botswana animals trivia nerd" and I'm not afraid to say it. This ridiculous and somewhat excessive knowledge has made me an asset on game drives, especially for those patrons who sit in the back of the vehicles and can't hear the guide properly, and hopefully in quiz nights of the future.

Last weekend, I went on a mini trip up to the Okavango Delta. We spent time on the water and surveying a number of small islands. During a nature walk, our guide told me a new and particularly entertaining anecdote about hippos that I am going to add to my repertoire, in the event that I do decide to become a guide myself... it goes like this:

"A long long time ago, when God was creating all the animals, he made the hippopotamus as an animal of the forests and plains. But the hippo was greedy and, finding plenty of food all around him and no enemies to worry about, he grew fatter and fatter and fatter. The hippo became so fat that he had great difficulty waddling down to the river for his daily drink. This caused the hippo to become envious of all the fishes that swam in the cool water and he wanted to be among them.

The hippo then went to God and asked if he could leave the land to bask in the glory of the water. God, upon hearing the request, said that the fish were very dear and that he was worried the hippo would take its great eating habits and begin to eat the fish until there wouldn't be any left. Although the hippo promised not to eat any of the fish, God untrustingly declared that the hippo must continue living on the lands.

After some time of watching the poor hippo baking in the hot hot sun, his heart softened and God went to the hippo and told him that he would allow him to live in the water if the hippo could prove that he wasn't eating the fish. The hippo then declared that he would lie in the cool of the water by day and then, each night, he would return to the land and scatter his dung on the earth with his tail so that God could see everything that the hippo had eaten and see for himself that there were no fish bones. God believed this would be proof enough that the hippo was eating only grass found on the river banks and allowed the hippo to relax in the waters during all of its days.

So, this is the way, to this very day, that the hippopotamus comes out of the water to scatter its dung as it looks to the heavens and says 'Look God, no fishes!'"

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