The Story of Hop-Along
(Not for sensitive readers)
When my mother told me I should behave I had my own way of doing things; I just had to push my luck till, eventually it ran out. I was told to leave all the security I ever new: No more luxury of just following the adults around to all the nice grazes and water places, no more luxury of having a family around for company or security. But then, who cared. I was a teenager and free to go and explore the world. I had time on my hands and I could do with it what ever I wanted.
I roamed around at will and met other groups, but no one really cared to take me in. I met interesting wanderers; lazy guys and I met giants. One such giant was Duke. He really is an impressive guy: Larger than life and so much to tell. He taught me the finer techniques of mastering a Duke-ship, and I thought he was just great.
One day in the summer season; after we had some very good rains and the veld was exceptionally green I met this guy in the Lwakahle territory. He was angry at the world; just as I once was. We were both just looking for new area to explore, but he did not like me being there. He started to push me around, and wow he was strong. He had good long tusks pointing to the ground. I was not really looking for this fight, but not going to be pushed around for nothing either. However, I misjudged myself slightly and on a muddy slope slipped. I was down on the ground when he pushed his tusk in my left front leg, breaking bone as he did. As he left I realised the severity of my predicament. I knew life was never going to be the same again.
From what my mother taught me (oh where was she now), I new I had to get to a place with water and food as security. There I would have a chance on survival; not out in no-manâ€™s land. I started my slow journey north looking for the Biyamiti. It was very painful walking; most of my weight was on the front of my body and hopping on one leg dragging the injured one with was putting severe stress on my whole body.
My mother told me never to give up and step by painful step I made my way north. I had to get to the Biyamiti, to the security of water and food. I could feel my body giving its all to keep on going. With every day passing I could feel the infection creeping up in my leg.
After what felt like and eternity I came over a rise one morning and could see the green snake of the Biyamiti down in the valley. I kept on hopping down into the valley, crossed a road for the humans and made it safely to water and green food. At last I could relish in the coolness of the sparkling clean water. My body was aching with fever; my front leg was swollen into my shoulder the stench of the rotten wound bringing hordes of biting and sucking flies.
So far I have been lucky; I had very little predators making a nuisance of themselves. On my fist day in the Biyamiti though there were some humans sounding too close. Most of them stayed up on a small hill with their noisy vehicles, but two came wandering down the rise; one with a long stick and one with a shiny branch. I was determined not to show my weak side to them and kept on turning away to keep an eye on them. The smallest of the two kept on pushing to get to my bad side; the taller one standing back just looking on. At last I had to give up and let him see my vulnerability. I could feel that I was defeated; all the time spent trying to get to security had led me straight into the humansâ€™ den. I could not run; they had to do what they wanted. Then they left again.
I spent the night there in the riverbed, trying to cool my aching body with the fresh water of the Biyamiti. I grazed on the green reeds to try and rebuild my strength. Somehow I new it was in vain. I could feel my power draining through this terrible gash in my lower front leg and I knew the humans would come backâ€¦
And indeed we did. The next day I managed to get the two rangers from the adjacent sections to come and have a look at Hop-Along. This prime elephant bull, probably about 25 years old, was in a dilemma leading straight down the path of suffering. His condition was severely compromised due to the difficulty with which he had to move. His whole front leg, from the lowest joint, right up into the shoulder was infected and swollen to almost twice the normal size. The gashing wound was oozing rotten and a disaster in the making. This poor animal was in agony and was using all his strength to just survive from day to day.
After a short deliberation it was decided to put Hop-Along down. It would be the humane thing to do. Rifles were put to the shoulder and so ended the life of an African giant in the deafening thump of a single shot.
On inspection of the broken leg one only realised the pain this animal had to bear. The bone at the lower joint of the leg was completely shattered and jagged pieces now protruded from the wound.
Back at camp I downloaded the pictures of Hop-Along and was wondering how soon the hyenas and vulture would finish him up. I knew that the happening of the last two days would stay with me long after the scavengers had finished the body off.
And that was the story of Hop-Along who is now just a memory in my mind and a picture on my pc.