Monday, October 08, 2007

I'd rather be a hyena

My family's ideal holiday celebration is to eat a large meal and then to gather around the television and watch Planet of the Apes or Ben Hur (one of which is, oddly, always on TV on Christmas), or a nature documentary.

So today, we're watching the fabulous Planet Earth series and there's this one segment on these African elephants, and they're making their yearly pilgramage towards water and they get caught in a dust storm and their only hope is a copse of trees some hundreds of meters away, but what with the dust and all it's difficult for the pack to stay together and to keep its sense of direction and then the camera cuts to a baby elephant and its mother. The baby elephant is struggling to stay close and then it bonks into a tree, isn't it cute and don't we hope it'll survive? Most of the herd has reached the trees by now, but the mama-lephant and the baby are still wandering in the dust, and hands are clenched and hearts are racing and then phew! They reach safety and join the remainder of the herd, and a sigh of relief is heard around the world.

But what's this? The camera pans back to show another elephant, staggering and clearly near the end of its rope, but doggedly following the tracks of its fellows. As the camera pans back still further, you see that it is following them in the wrong direction, that the trees lie so close behind it, could it but see through the dust, and that for miles and miles in the way that it is headed, there is nothing but dry, barren dirt.

It was the most hopeless thing I think I've ever seen. I am thankful that I am not that elephant.

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