It’s an unusual phrase, “The elephant in the room”, isn’t it? I mean, it works in some ways, because it’s something that everyone is fully aware of – how could you not notice an elephant in a room? – but if there was an actual elephant in a room I was in, I would probably want to do something about it. Like quite possibly leave the room. Elephants don’t belong in rooms and therefore, an elephant in a room is likely to be rather pissed off.
I’m going to look at some wildlife this weekend. I hope, anyway. Wildlife is exactly that: wild, and sometimes it doesn’t want to be looked at. Mostly, when it doesn’t want to be looked at, wildlife hides away, but sometimes, wildlife fights back and even the most unlikely of wildlife can be deadly.
I’m not talking about lions, hippos, rhinos or elephants here – you look at them and you think DANGER! Teeths, tusks, horns, speed, weight, bulk. DANGER! But tall isn’t scary. When you look at a giraffe, you just see bewilderingly puny looking legs and neck. Giraffes don’t look dangerous. They look like one of those string and wood toys that you push the base on and they collapse. You let giraffes play with your kids’ cuddly toys:
No. Giraffes aren’t dangerous. Or are they? Because here’s what was waiting for me on the pisspoor TimesLive site this morning:
Cyclist trampled to death by giraffe
The giraffe probably got irritated by some typically arrogant RLJ’ing behaviour.
A Sunday afternoon cycle ride for Braan Bosse of Nigel, on the Far East Rand, ended in his death when he was attacked by a giraffe at the Thaba Monata Game Lodge, in Bela Bela, Limpopo. Lodge owner Marily Abatemarco believes Bosse, 46, was trampled to death.
Rather unusual, though, right? I thought so too. But then, somewhere deep in my memory, I found this:
Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe.
I was quite ready to cower away from the lions and the elephants this weekend. Now it seems that I have to hide from the bloody giraffes as well. Seriously? You don’t get this sort of danger in the UK – sure, you might come across a vaguely irritated badger or a mildly disgruntled fox, but they’re not going to smash your skull in, eat you or jump up and down all over your rapidly spatchcocked corpse just because they’re anxious to be seen to be living up to their “wildlife” moniker. I didn’t move here for this – if I’d wanted constant animal-related danger, I would have chosen Australia. (Spoiler: No, I wouldn’t – it’s full of Australians.)
Anyway, my new plan is to stay in the short scrub, where there is limited danger of unforeseen giraffe attack (aside, of course, from the extremely sneaky limbo giraffe) (but fortunately they’re pretty rare in the Western Cape).
Not the Skunk Anansie one, although that would have been pretty apt, given that it was about a year ago that she rocked us at Rocking The Daisies. Their lineup this year is underwhelming at best.
But I digress. Often.
Quota photo time, lest there be no chance of getting anything up later (careful now) and I rushed to my Flickr and somewhat randomly chose this one:
Folds of giraffe skin, still very much on the giraffe, at Paarl’s Giraffe House earlier this year. This was a fully grown giraffe, but it still appears to have a fair amount of spare skin. I thought that was something that animals grew into, like Colin has been doing.
Unsurprisingly, if memory serves me correctly, it did seem quite taut on his neck though.
Following the tragic death of a giraffe which hit its head on a low bridge while being transported to Limpopo yesterday, individuals involved in the transportation of livestock have been warned to check again that the routes they are planning to take are suitable for the animals in question.
“Basically, what I are saying is that the drivers should look at the distinguishing features of the animals they are transporting, and adjust their route accordingly,” said Wessels van Heerden of Specialist Haulage & International Transportation (SHIT) Pty Ltd. “This are a terrible, but wholly avoidable accident. Those involved should have thought about what physical characteristic are making a giraffe special – his long neck and his great height – and considered the implications of traveling under the Garsfontein Road bridge on the N1. Only last week, we are lucky to prevent another similar incident in which two elephants are due to be transported across an unfeasibly weak rope bridge in Mpumalanga. It are a disaster waiting to happen.”
However, there is also an argument that physical harm to the animal is not the only consideration which needs to be taken into account. Some organisations are calling for the regulations which would mean that the mental well-being of livestock in transit need to be addressed as well. Crystal Moonbeam is spokesperson for NGO People for the Organisation of Ethical Shipments (POES):
“Animals are people too. They have feelings, they suffer the same stresses and tensions as us. We need to ensure that they are happy, relaxed, comfortable and contented while they are being moved. There was an appalling case recently when a lorry carrying a mixed cargo of cows, springbok, kudu and ostrich got stuck in heavy traffic right outside a biltong factory in Braamfontein. For nearly ten minutes. Can you even imagine their pain? We took the haulage company to court for causing the animals unnecessary distress. No, we didn’t win, but I think it’s important that we act as voice for the animals.”
And even the final destination of the livestock is something that the shippers need to consider before moving animals. Van Heerden again:
“We have successfully stopped a shipment a couple of years ago. All the animal crates is perfect, the vehicle is fine and the route are sensible, but it are for a promotional event at a local balloon factory and whoever thought that taking four porcupines along to that was a good idea are clearly not thinking straight.”