“Nearly all men can stand adversity,
but if you want to test a man’s character,
give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
the 1st of ten nominees
for 2017 Song of the Year
To Leave Something Behind by Sean Rowe
You must not fight too often with one enemy,
or you will teach him all your art of war.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
In the remote and untamed Katavi National Forest in Tanzania, the infamous dry season does not simply refer to its lack of rain, but its shortage of water. The rivers that flow in abundance during the rainy season, like drunken patrons after hours, have their source cut off from the sky as well as the mountain waterfalls and lakes. As the searing heat penetrates the scorched land, water becomes a precious commodity, and the wild animals that are generally use to wide open plains, are reduced to patronizing the same watering holes, eventually stressing all but the fittest inhabitants, until they break.
Even in times of plenty, the Hippopotamus is one of nature’s most aggressive and dangerous animals, but they are also the most sensitive, as the hippopotamus are prone to dehydration faster than any other mammal, having the need to keep their entire 3000 pound body completely submerged in water, during the hottest times of the day. As the dry season lingers, water sources in some regions dry up completely, forcing a mass migration of animals – hunters and grazers – by air, land and dwindling river streams.
Cape Buffalo and elephants, the other mammoth herbivores, bulldoze their way to the waters, not meaning to make a ruckus, but frankly, not giving a damn if they do. Crocodiles, the only survivor of the dinosaur age swarm in large numbers, patrolling the water, with lion prides blocking all the exits on land. As the heat intensifies, and as water sources disappear, and as the number of animals invading their space skyrockets, it is the hippos that become the most intense.
Hippos tend to huddle among each other, delivering, quite convincingly, the allusion of civility and uniformity. But even the allusion is a precarious one at best, and can be broken by the same straw that men use in breaking the camels back. As the water level lowers, and the temperatures soar, everything becomes an annoyance – a bump, a jump or the slightest breeze, all a wild card, as to which the straw will be. And once the calm is broken, the aggressive 3000 pound hippo explodes, setting off a calamitous chain reaction, usually leaving the young and the weak, wounded or dead.
So truth be told, with all of the hazards and trap doors that the dry season brings – be it the ruthless sun or the circling carnivores or the encroachment of the poachers – the number one killer of the hippo, are other hippos…. like man.
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