Air Date: Week of May 30, 2003
[MUSIC: West African Balafon Ensemble “Farfina” The Pulse of Life Ellipsis (1992)]
CURWOOD: The sun was high in the sky when we spotted him low in the grass on the African savannah. Crouched, tail twitching to and fro with a menacing rhythm, a huge leopard was eyeing a herd of passing water buffalo.
Water buffalo are some of the most dangerous animals in the African wild. They have such a hard helmet of horn that even a hunter with a high-powered gun faces doom from a charging buffalo, unless his first shot is expertly placed. Most people don’t know buffalo are so dangerous, my guide told me. That’s why big game hunters are more likely to get hurt by a buffalo than by a lion in the wild.
The big cat does know the strength of the African buffalo, and was not interested in taking on a single adult, never mind hundreds of hooves and horns. But, said my guide, there might be a chance that a calf would stray from the herd. Or perhaps an elderly straggler would offer some “pickins”.
And, indeed, as the leopard crept closer to the herd, a calf broke away. The leopard tensed. His tail froze. Then, with a seemingly casual air, a large cow nudged the youngster back inside the herd.
The leopard noticeably slumped, and then resumed his vigil. He would eat, sometime, if he could just be patient.
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