Monday, May 3, 2010

African Folklore: Why the Giraffe and the Oxpecker are Good Friends

After God created the earth, when all the animals lived together peacefully, a huge bushfire swept through the land, started by a bolt of lightning. The tinder dry grass burst into flames and the strong winds that are common before the rainy season, quickly spread a wall of flames from horizon to horizon. Unable to do anything to put it out, the animals fled in panic before the deadly flames.

A pair of oxpeckers had made their nest in a hole in a tree trunk and had just hatched out their chicks, but the tree stood in the path of the advancing flames. The oxpeckers pleaded with the passing animals to help them rescue their little chicks, but they took no notice as they ran from the deadly flames.

Just when the desperate oxpeckers were about to give up hope, the kind giraffe came along and seeing the
birds so distressed asked what was wrong. "Oh Giraffe;' the oxpeckers wailed, "Our nest will soon be burned and our chicks with it. Please carry it away from the fire for us:'

Giraffe took pity on the oxpeckers in their dreadful plight and rushed to the tree through the dense smoke and the flying sparks. Because of his long legs and neck, Giraffe was able to reach to the top of the tree and pluck the nest and the young fledglings from the hole and carry them to safety.

"Oh, thank you, thank you, kind Giraffe;' said the much relieved oxpeckers, "How can we ever repay you for your kindness?"

"That will be quite easy;' replied the Giraffe, "I am always troubled by ticks. If you like you can ride on my back and pick the ticks off for me.'  "We will gladly do this service for you for ever and ever,' replied the
overjoyed oxpeckers.

Today, if you go into the African bush you will nearly always see oxpeckers and giraffes living together. (From: When the Hippo was Hairy and Other tales from Africa; Nick Greaves.)

No comments: