Its whiter whiteness attracted my attention. The skull of a bull giraffe
My easy leisure allowed time to wonder at its size, its beautiful perfection, even in this final confirmation of death.
It was flawless, smooth like polished marble. Not even a crack or a mark from the bone crusher’s jaws. The skull was heavy as half a sack of meal, and the size of a young goat! The bull had survived to reach the full size that its environment could support.
But the time came when its body started a slow decay to the point, not many weeks ago, when a deep tiredness overcame it. Perhaps then the lions came, or perhaps it just lowered the mighty body onto the soft sand and lay, and waited. And the vultures spotted the prostate form first from their untraceable heights and one by one circled into view and came and perched in the trees and waited too. And when they thought death had stilled the giant they dropped to the ground and sprang closer with half-open wings and bare necks stretched out and stopped and stared with tilted heads. And then the first one risked a careful peck and when the bull did not stir, they mobbed onto the carcass and squabbled and tore. And then the ants with their delicate pincers, and the slow juices of the bacteria and the gnawing of insect grubs came and carefully stripped away the last bits of skin and flesh and sinew and left it like a finished work of art.
I found this strange, that the skull was so alone, yet not even the delicate bone of the palette or the horn stubs showed any sign of the teeth of likely larger predators – lions, brown hyenas, jackals, badgers. Although I scouted round, there were none of the rest of the skeletal bones around, not even one vertebra or a heavy bone. How did the skull end up so alone? Either the bones were all carried off, or the skull itself was carried here and left. Only brown hyena might (could) have carried off the big bones, but so cleanly? It was unlikely. And if the skull was carried here, again only by hyena, it should show some bite marks.
Later in the tinny clatter of the Land Cruiser’s cabin it had me wondering, and wondering till I finally put it out of my mind.
But it would return to fiddle with, like now…