Andrew Helton: Migration

Fall '13 TOC


On a vast open plain a young West African giraffe was lying dejectedly among his herd, his neck sprawled across the dry ground, black tongue protruding onto a hoof. The rest of his friends and family were grazing on nearby acacia trees in the hot afternoon sun when a meerkat sprang up from his den, inches from the giraffe's nose. The meerkat noticed his rather glum expression, and, resting his head on his arms as though insisting on his interest in the response, inquired as to just what the giraffe was so upset about.

"Oh it's those Masai giraffes again. They keep stealing all of our leaves and every time we complain we have to listen to some sob story about how hard their life has been." This much was true. A large herd of Masai giraffe's had recently migrated nearby after a terrible drought that wiped out nearly all of the local vegetation around their own territory. The group was forced to go more than a month without food or water before migration became their only choice. This was a story the young giraffe had become all too familiar with, whether it was spoken in anger or sympathy.

"So what's the big problem?" asked the meerkat. "They look just like you. Why don't you invite them to join your herd? You could at least help them. Looks like there aren't many trees over there."

"Look just like us?" the giraffe scoffed. "Look at them over there." The giraffe and the meerkat both peered far into the distance, past their own feeding grounds, to get a good look. "They are so much shorter than us. And look at their spots. Can you not see how much darker they are? They don't belong here. Nothing but a bunch of takers, too, if you ask me." Upset, the giraffe stood and glared across the grassland as though trying to send pangs of shame their way. The meerkat jumped back for fear of getting stepped on in the giraffe's excitement.

"Do you know what they do? Here we have all of these beautiful, lush, acacia trees—trees that have been ours for years. My father goes on and on about how hard it was. It isn't often you come across trees that produce so fruitfully and it was our work that found them. But these Masai giraffes have the nerve to come over into our territory at night and pluck branches off of our trees. That isn't even the worst part. Do they eat them here? No! They actually bring them back over to their side and share the leaves with their herd. And if we complain about it we get to hear some sob story from them about how they haven't had food or water for weeks and how our herd has taken over all of the acacia groves in the area. I even saw one stretching it's neck over into our territory once to eat our leaves. When I caught him he just made some snarky comment about how he wasn't standing in our territory. I swear it's true! Can you believe it?

"Yeah, I remember when you guys got here," said the meerkat.



Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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