An explanation of animal habits

We are walking through the bush near the dam and come upon a heap of animal droppings.

Whose are those? I ask Font of all Knowledge, husband.

Dikdik, he says in nonchalant manner of man who has spent his life tracking animals through the African wilds.


Why do they do that? I want to know, why do they do their poo in one place.

They always do, says FOAK.

But why, I persist. He doesn’t know why.

I know why, pipes up Hat, who has been whittling a stick with a penknife. And she proceeds to explain.

Once upon a time, she says, delighted to have capitivated audience of two rapt parents who think she is about to deliver Attenborough style wisdom on animal habits, there was a dikdik who drowned in a huge pile of elephant poo. His friends and family were very sad and decided to get revenge on the elephant, which is why they all poo in the same place, one day they hope their pile of poo will be big enough to drown the elephant.


But then she considers the almost flat heap of dung, I think it’s going to take a long time, she says.

On the way home, as the sun’s sinking beyond Outpost’s millions of mango trees and the muezzin is revving up to counter the morning’s Anglican hymns, we stop to buy roasted cobs of corn from a roadside vendor. Hat lies down on the backseat chewing hers thoughtfully,

Mummy, you know when we stay with Granny in England and we go to Tesco?

Yes love.

Well I like going to Tesco but the thing is when you go to Tesco you can’t stop and buy sugar cane and mealies on the side of the road, can you?

No love, you can’t.

I’m glad I live here then.

11 Responses to “An explanation of animal habits”

  1. Primal Sneeze Says:

    Poor Hat. Doesn’t she know the elephants ‘remember’ where the dikdiks pooped and don’t go there.

    Damn it, she’s right about Tesco though: I hate the kip. Well, I hate shops in general. Trolley rage don’t you know.

  2. Roberta Says:

    Your Hat sounds like a treasure! What an imagination!
    I think she has her priorities straight as well.

    You are doing a great job, Mama.

  3. Carolyn Says:

    I want sugarcane and mealies!

    You are indeed doing a great job.

  4. Iota Says:

    See. You should definitely encourage her to blog.

  5. Potty Mummy Says:

    Your Hat and my 4 year old should get together and produce their own version of Wildlife on One. This morning my Boy informed me that whales are so scared of elephants that they hide in their mummy’s hair when they see them. What with that and the poo drownings, it seems like elephants have a lot to answer for…

  6. Sophie Says:

    I’m glad that you live there, too, so that I can read your wonderful blog. What a joy!

  7. MisssyM Says:

    Reluctant. I read your blog and wistfully sigh.

  8. Pig in the kitchen Says:

    It sounds as though she is blissfully happy with her new ‘schooling at home’ experiment. Her imagination definitely not suffering. And her lying down in the back (of the bakkie?) recalled my brother and I rolling around in our sleeping bags on long trips in the back of our parent’s car. Before the days of health and safety.

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you all – for making me feel – on the shaky days when I worry about my decision – that Hat might be getting a precious experience. Albeit a bit shitty at times …

  10. Susan Says:

    Hi, I found your blog through Sophie. What a wonderful experience that most people I know would never have the chance to have…although it’s comforting to see that, regardless of countries we live in or where our children are born, they all share a love and curiosity of poop. Ah, humanity! 🙂

  11. Equiano Says:

    Very wise, your little one…and it is the sugarcane she’d miss more than access to a supermarket, I can tell you!

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