Z is for Zebu

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Well, I didn’t make the deadline, and I’m posting on a sunday. But at least I’ve wrote it and at least I can say, “I finished!”

This is the final instalment of the A to Z blogging challenge. More information can be found here.

He had grown around the animals, a fact of life as common as a dog or a cat in any other family. But to others they were wild creatures, to some they were no more than a cow, and to another group they were holy. All his life had been spent with the animals, his father had them on his land and now he had them on his own.

So you can imagine his surprise when a man knocked at his door in a business suit, with a lanyard around his neck and a letter that told him he was no longer allowed to keep his animals.

“I’m sorry sir,” the man had said, “new government decree. They’re going extinct in the wild, and this is their way of saving the animals.”

“I don’t understand. The land where the wild Zebu’s live is miles away! Most of it was cut down for that new building project, where will they live?”

“That’s not for you to worry about, sir.”

“It damn well is!” he had replied, “These are my animals! They’ve been in my family for generations. I was there when they were calves and I’m gonna be there this spring when the new mothers have their calves.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the man repeated, “government decree. They’ll be gone by the end of the month.”

It had taken all of his will power not to slam the door in the man’s face. Instead he took the letter and immediately went to his computer. Surely he had rights? These animals were a part of his farm, they were part of his livelihood.

It took him nearly all month, even with help from his family, to get the evidence he needed. When the truck pulled into his farm he was ready. In one hand he had the original letter, in the other he had a folder, full of information and evidence. And by his side stood his lawyer.

He wasn’t going down without a fight.

These were his animals, and they depended on him.

They were his Zebu, and he was their farmer.

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Z is for Zebu

Y is for Yak

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The penultimate A to Z blog entry! This has been written for part of the A to Z April blogging challenge, if you’re only just hearing about it please visit their website to find out more!

The snow had fallen deeply this year. It filled the fields below and covered every mountain path. It was only through instinct and ingrained knowledge of the hills around that the heard was still trudging safely through the region.

Leading the heard were the older yak, mothers and grandmothers that had grown into their leadership roles. Their horns had grown long and sharp, with them they sliced through the snow drifts, clearing the path for the others. Far behind, at the back, were the young ones, still in their first years their horns were small and soft. They each nudged each other, shuffling and murmuring.

One in particular surged forward, driving their horns into the snow. It wiggled for a second, its hooves digging in. It was stuck.

“Maaa! Jebs is stuck!” called one of the yaks watching the struggling Jebs. There was a sigh from further in front. One of the Yaks at the back of the group turned around heading straight for the squirming kid.

“Jebs! How many times have I told you not to try this until you’re Merta’s age?” she asked. Her hooves dug into the trampled snow, and with a mighty shove pushed him free of the snow.

“Yeah Jebs! You’re too young!” trumpeted Merta, she danced circles around him laughing. The baby yaks behind laughed with her. It took only a second but with a good push Jebs saw to it that Merta was introduced to a snow float bottom first. The others laughed all the louder as she struggled to push herself back up. Their mother tutted, helping her to stand.

“Merta,” she chided, “what have I told you about teasing your brother? And Jebs, no pushing!” She stood them side by side and made them march in front of her. The others continued to frolic behind, carefree until their mothers came for them too.

Y is for Yak

X is for Xenops

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One of the last letters to be written for the A to Z blogging challenge. Please visit the website in the link to support every blogger who is still posting! This post is about a type of bird called a Xenops, while it’s not endangered, it’s certainly not well known so I hope I will be forgiven for including this in my list.

It happened slowly, with no real distinction between the river band and the forest proper it was difficult to tell when the river finally overflowed. But they had thought of that. A few yards back from the churning water brave pixies stood waiting for it. Then as soon as it swirled around their ankles they were jumping onto their steeds. Small brown birds with dappled feathers than spun and twisted through the air.

The xenops’ calls were distinctive and loud in the quiet night air. Almost immediately there was a flurry of movement below. All types of animals mixed together, lizards riding on monkeys and birds swooping to pick up mice. No thought of prey or hunger. Under the pixies watch everyone was equal and all were saved. Even the Xenops carried animals. The pixies had made tiny baskets for small animals like ants to climb into, ensuring that they wouldn’t be left behind as the murky water covered the forest floor.

The teams worked all night, no pixie nor bird pausing to rest until all that could be saved had been. By the time dawn broke on the horizon much of the forest had been lost to the river and its streams. But many animals had been saved too, placed on high land or in trees. Finally they could stop.

The birds landed heavily on branches, taking time to put feathers to right and rest their wings. Meanwhile the pixies jumped back and forth between trees, trading stories of the most daring rescues and the fastest birds.

It was easy to see that the plans had been successful, and that a partnership between the two creatures was as successful as ever.

X is for Xenops

W is for Water Dragon

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Written for part of the A to Z blogging challenge. I’m also, once more, a day late, but don’t worry, I’m still striving to finish on time! This one is short but hopefully amusing.

Huge amber eyes peered down at the small, trembling lizard below it. The creature snorted, and plumes of thick black smoke flared from its nostrils, spiralling lazily upwards in the afternoon sun. Cautiously the lizard flicked out its tongue, tasting the air. There was the sharp scrape of claw on fragile stone as the creature adjusted itself.

“So this is what the great dragon name has become? My ancestor’s legacy has been reduced to a tiny reptile that can hold its breath for a while,” said the creature.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, Martuse,” replied a small human, patting the beefy leg he was leaning against. The dragon’s giant head swung round so that he could see the human out of one eye.

“At least your descendants have learnt how to think,” Its head swung back to the lizard, which was hastily scampering off the rock, “That creature has yet to realise it is a being.”

There was silence, disturbed only by the sounds of the forest and the water as it gurgled past them. Then, with a plop, the lizard vanished into the river to hide.

This seemed to be the undoing of the man as he burst into giggles, heedless of the angry glare being sent his way. Deep in the river the lizard swam as fast as it could from the giant paws that churned the riverbed.

W is for Water Dragon

V is for Vulture

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Part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

Did you know that there are nearly 30 different species of Vulture? I did not. Did you know that 16 of them are endangered? I did not. I was quite surprised to find this out. I always thought of vultures as those mean looking creatures that circle the Evil Queen’s body at the end of Snow White. But this challenge has really opened my eyes to them. They feed on animal carcases, ew yes, but they provide a really important part of the food chain. Imagine if there were rotting animal carcases everywhere! They also kill the bacteria and viruses that are spread by the rotting meat thanks to the acids in their stomach.

Thanks to humans, through deforestation, poisoning, poaching and habitat loss, many vultures are now facing a crisis. So if this story moves you, or you want to find out more, visit this website, which lists the 16 species that are most endangered, and has links to the various organisations that are trying to protect vultures. I have one last thing to say, and that is that this is nothing like what I have previously wrote in that it has a more serious tone and is also not really a story. However I hope it is enjoyable and informative, and helps save at least one vulture.

An open letter from the vultures to the humans.

We the vulture would like the humans to rethink their view on our species. We may not look pretty, and you haven’t done us any favours in your portrayal of us in media, but we serve a very important purpose in your world. One that humans themselves cannot, or will not, do.

Think about this: if we go extinct who will clean your roads of animal carcasses? Who will take care of your wild animals rotting on the planes? Who will protect humans from the spread of diseases caused by such deaths?

Will it be you, humans? Will you spend your precious paper money on animal and human carcass removal? Even for those small and unimportant villages that survive in the wilderness?

No, probably not. Like many other things humans do not stop to think of the devastation they spread on Mother Earth.

You are the killers, the poisoners; the destructive species that grew thought and believed yourselves above the animals. And we are the caretakers, the cleaners, the waste disposal group.

So the next time you, the poacher, puts a lead bullet into a wild animal, think of the one who will be eating your waste, hiding the evidence that you were ever hunting there. Change the bullet if you most poach, and do not leave us to suffer an agonising death of lead poisoning.

The next time you, the veterinarian, use Diclofenac to help relieve the livestock’s pain, burn the carcass, bury it, just do not leave it in the open. We smell the meal you have left for us, we see the body but we cannot sense the poison you have left in its veins, we cannot protect ourselves from this strange medicine you have spread throughout its body. It is not a pain killer to us, it is simply the killer.

The next time you, the farmer, uses any chemical to help protect your farm, think beyond the animal you are protecting to the animal you are killing. You protect your farm by killing the wild animals that have lived there for centuries. You take their land, their habitat, their home, and you put a fence up and believe they will stay away. But why should they, it is still their land. Just because you are human does not mean you own the land. You cause agonising, painful deaths with your poisons, and think that this is just because it means you have one more cow. And we think we have a meal, only to suffer again, we are punished for the actions of a hungry animal and a greedy farmer.

We recognise that we are not the prettiest of creature, but who would be in our position. Feathers on the head can cause all sorts of problems when eating. But we are worshipped in some cultures. Does that stand for nothing? That some of you humans can recognise that the deeds we do and the food we eat provide you a service? That the bodies of animal and human alike carry disease and more death within them, but we prevent it from spreading.

The next time you watch your media and see us as cruel and cunning, scavenger and circling death, remember what we are doing and what it means for you. We eat what you will one day be, and we do it because that is what we were born for.
Were humans born to destroy the earth and every animal, or have you evolved to be the ones who save it?

V is for Vulture

U is for Umbrellabird

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So I’m posting this late because I started my new job yesterday! Once I came home I simply couldn’t bring myself to even turn the laptop on, never mind write a short story. I can only apologise and post today. I’m writing this as part of the A to Z blogging challenge, if you’re interesting in finding out more or looking at some other blogs that are participating please go here.

The forest was alive with their calls, each trying to outdo the other. They were the strangest birds she had ever seen. Each bird had a large Mohawk type crest over their heads, full black feathers that hung right over their beak. However, that wasn’t what had the team laughing hysterically. That was all thanks to the large pouch the birds had hanging from their chests.

At first they had thought the bird had a deformity, but more and more gathered in the trees around, each one with a long tubular bit dangling from their tiny bodies. And then one of them had chirped. The tube had expanded, the feathers puffing out and forming a strange, almost pine-cone shape. On the small bodies of the birds it looked ridiculous. For a moment she was worried it was going to drag the bird of the branch.

The tiny raven creatures danced around the branches, talking to each other, mindless of their extremity.

“I wonder what it’s for?” one of the men asked.

“Possibly to help with mating? It’s the season for it, maybe the bigger the dangly bit the more attention the females give him,” her friend nudged her and winked. Martha scoffed.

“It is for mating but it’s to make their called louder. Not for any of your lewd suggestions,” she told them. Around her the crew were snapping away, taking pictures and videos. They needed all the record they could get of the birds. The solitary animals were becoming harder to find outside of mating season, especially with the deforestation happening at the base of the mountains.

She took her own camera out, this one for a personal picture. She loved her job and the travelling, but she loved showing her daughter where she had been and what she had seen even more.

 

U is for Umbrellabird

T is for Tuartara

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Part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

Inspired by The San Diego Zoo‘s information on Tuataras, specifically this:

“Found in New Zealand only, the tuatara’s closest relatives are an extinct group of reptiles around at the time of the dinosaurs. This is why some scientists refer to tuataras as “living fossils.”

The burrow was cool and cosy. Sunlight baking the earth above but the shadows inside provided a enjoyable respite. It was too hot for him nowadays.

A good few years ago he would have been out, scampering around the undergrowth looking for a tasty morsel. Time had moved on though, and he was left behind, watching the young ones run around. Watching them court danger and tease their prey. Oh, to be young again.

Now his left back knee gave him jip in the heat and he sought the coldest areas he could find. Sometimes he found himself sleeping earlier in the winter and waking later. Always taking the longest hibernations he could. Recently even the crunchiest insects had lost their taste.

He pondered over his life as the resident of the burrow came home to find it occupied. He frightened them off and slunk ever deeper into the earth. Yes, the sun was beaming today, and there was a fresh crisp wind rolling in from the sea. But, he thought to himself, maybe now was the time to bunker down. He curled himself into a ball, closing his eyes.

A long time ago, he had met his father, a tuartura who was old and getting on in years, and his father had said to him,

“Son, one day you’ll get to my age and you’ll realise you want nothing more than to melt into the ground. To join with our ancestors who roamed the earth with the dinosaurs.”

At the time he had thought his father silly. How could anyone ever want to give up racing through the undergrowth, blinking in the night and challenging each other to breath holding contests.

Now he too was an old man, and he saw the wisdom in his father’s words. He took a deep breath and released it slowly, Sinking into the earth and joining his ancestors in the big burrow in the sky.

T is for Tuartara