A weekend with friends on a game farm sounds ideal… Evenings around a campfire: Drinking wine, roasting marshmallows. The icy cold of a winter’s night, biting at your cheeks. Actually being able to see the stars your had forgotten exist in a sky usually thickened by city smog.
You would never expect a weekend like this, could turn into a weekend that will forever tarnish the “Happy Memory Box” in your brain. (Unless you’ve seen some episodes of When Good Times Go Bad…then you would most definitely think that.)
So, when I was woken up at the crack of a winter’s dawn on the Saturday morning of the away weekend, I was a little peeved that my morning would not be spent lazing in bed, chatting to my two girl friends. When I was told that in fact, we would be spending the morning “counting the game” I was positively outraged!
First of all, I am a city girl at heart. Yes, of course I love weekends in the bush… but for the cheese & wine at sunset, and for the cheese & wine around the fire, and for the cheese & wine while snuggling into the many, many blankets those places seem to always be equipped with… My enjoyment of these places has very little (well, nothing) to do with the actual animals! To be honest, I really couldn’t care if I don’t see a single animal all damn weekend!
So, not only was I not interested in spending hours walking at arms length away from my friends, through dusty bushveld, counting (and documenting the name, year model and number plate) every animal I see… but I was ignorant too. I had no idea, at all, what a “rooibok” looked like! And when I found out it wasn’t actually red at all, I almost gave up. Then, when I found out a “blesbok” wasn’t walking around completely devoid of any fur or feathers, I lost all hope.
But, not one to give up (well, I actually AM one to give up, but whatever) I ventured deep into the dry bush. Now the thing about the bush is: Extreme Climate. When it’s cold, it’s bloody freezing. And when it’s hot, you need to remove your extra layers. I at least knew this much, which is why, by the time the wintry sun started beating down, I was well equipped to remove my red hoodie, and tie it around my waist. While still covering my (modest) bosoms with the T-shirt I had worn underneath for just such an incident. There is a little bit of bushveld in each of us…even if it is only “bushveld fashion sense”.
After failing to identify at least 6 different animals as they ran past me (not obvious ones like lions, just different species of buck) (who the hell would want to spent a weekend viewing buck anyway?!) I noticed I that I was being followed. Not by a hot young Game Ranger as I had initially hoped… but by a huge, towering, beady-eyed ostrich. This thing was stalking me from around four paces behind me, and it was freaking me the hell out. Its giant, black marble of an eyeball had the devil behind it, and I was not happy.
Fortunately, I had acquired a walking stick during the journey, and could use this to ward my stalker off. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes of awkward silence between the Stalker and myself, I decided to give the ostrich a defensive little wave of my cane… At that moment, the ostrich decided now would be a good time to give my face a defensive little peck with its beak! As it lunged forward: Head-to-cane connection of epic proportions!
In the split second between said head smacking and my death…just kidding! But once I had hit this seemingly innocent giant bird in the head, it didn’t take me long to realize that he was LIVID! Apart from the obvious signs: vicious hissing sound, smoke coming out of his ears, and horror movie theme music playing in the background…my keen survival sense told me: I needed to make a run for it.
Only after I had taken my first few steps, did my common sense pipe up and say “Hello?! Are you kidding me?! You are trying to run away from one the fastest land animals known to man!”
Now, in times of impending doom, or imminent death, one expects ones life to flash before ones eyes. But, honestly, between all the things happening at once, I really didn’t have time for such frivolous thoughts.
While simultaneously trying to outrun one of God’s most awkward-looking speed machines, being pecked to shreds by a giant Beak Of Pain, screaming for help in my pitiful Morning Voice and waving my arms around in a general state of panic… I failed to notice that the hoodie, which had previously lovingly cuddled me in its delicious warmth, was now slipping down around my knees, to become a knee-squishing death trap!
So many things happened within the next, oh I’d say…maybe six seconds. Firstly, running with my knees together proved to be more difficult than trying to get a tweezer onto an international flight. Secondly, I felt a 16 wheeler truck drive into my back (this turned out to be a kick from Demon Ostrich).
Third, my face hit the dirt at an alarming speed, and proceeded to plough through the dust and grass. (I would later find that my bottom lip had tried to slow me down, and in the process was torn from my gums. My nose had tried to break my fall, and instead ended up skinned like a potato. That my teeth were an ideal place to store any extra sand/grass/bugs I might need to transport in the future, and my eyelids weren’t quite tightly shut enough to save me from getting absolute boulders right into my eyeballs.)
What I would later be told, is that ostriches have a very specific way of killing (I say murdering) their prey (or any innocent humans who happen to smack them in the head with a stick). I like to call this, The Dance of Death.
Here is what they do: A fierce kick at speeds possibly breaking the sound barrier (Mythbusters?) gets the prey to the ground. The ostrich then uses its one gigantic toenail (I call this The Talon of Destruction) to rip open the abdomen of the poor beast. It does this by literally stomping on, and kicking at said victim until victim can fight no more (this brings to mind images of high school). This looks something like what people in clubs do when they do so-called “Stepping”. (If you don’t know what this looks like, Google it. It is hilarious and well worth the ridicule.)
With my face in the dust, and a murderous ostrich dancing on my back, it seemed as though my time was up. Death was at my doorstep and it was tapping its foot. As I was screaming for help, I could do no more than hope that this story would not get out.
I didn’t want to imagine my poor mother, having to be interviewed by Oprah about how a giant bird (that can’t even fly!) STEPPED her daughter to death. (???) My only hope was that one of my friends would take initiative, and make something awesome up. Something about how I was dragged to my death by a ravenous crocodile/lion/rabid meerkat…but not before putting up a valiant, if not successful, effort to survive, killing its entire family before, ultimately, perishing.
Then… it was over. Suddenly. Thankfully. And as I opened my eyes, searching for the Pearly White Gates, I was surprised at how dusty heaven was. It wasn’t really what I had been expecting…less shiny…more…
That’s when I saw her. An angel in jeans and a t-shirt. The poor woman had the ostrich by the throat, and blood pouring from a gash in her leg. Her face was pure Hero, and she was screaming at an unidentified kid to “Bring die bakkie!!”
While I was coming to my senses, I was overwhelmingly grateful to this Hero Woman for saving me! Yet, at the same time a little disappointed to not be in heaven… While at the same time… relieved that heaven was not necessarily this dusty… While at the same time, hungry (???) Obviously, in times of extreme trauma and near-death experiences, one might not think clearly.
Once the ostrich had been tied to a nearby tree, and I had stopped screaming for the ranger to “Shoot it!! Just kill the thing!!” we were taken to a nearby doctor. I was given an injection right into my bruised and battered derriere (this could easily have been done through the many slashes in my jeans), while poor Hero Woman was given 42 stitches in the gigantic gash in her leg.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that a complete stranger had been injured while risking life and limb to save me from underneath the Death Talons of a Demon Bird… it turns out that back in the day, Hero Woman had carried the title of Miss Legs. The shame I felt as I watched the doctor repeatedly stab a needle and thread into her (previously) lovely leg! “All this, because I had to get cocky with a stalker bird” I thought.
Later that night, once we had all been cleaned up and calmed down, a debriefing was happening around the camp fire. Every single game ranger showed up for the joyous occasion, and everyone was dissecting the incident from their own point of view: “I just heard this scream, and when I turned around, it was on top of her!”
I almost threw myself into the fire when I heard that the offending Demon Bird had NOT been sentenced to “death”/”15 years in solitary confinement” or even “life in prison with no possibility of parole”! The game rangers had SET IT FREE!! (???) Free to roam the dusty plains of the game farm…stalking innocent guests…dancing on the backs of countless men, women and children! It was obvious that this ostrich was a danger to society, and needed to be brought to justice! “I object!”
While we all listened to the same story, over and over, from every persons own personal experience of my very own brush with death, one of the rangers started to ask me some strange questions…
He took a deep drag of his smoke, before asking “What colour were his legs?” My first though, naturally, as I was being stared down, before being pecked in the head by a giant Bird of Fury, was “On an entirely grey and black bird, what colour would the legs be?” NOT!? “If they were red, it means he was on heat. This would make him very aggressive” (ok, so I had one thing in common with Ostrich The Ripper) “Also, the red sweater you had tied around your waist…it would have… enticed him…”
Wait. Was this man telling me… Honestly? Had I seriously escaped… ATTEMPTED RAPE by a horny ostrich???!!!
Yes sir, I damn well had.
Through sharing this story, I hope to promote a generation where we can all live in peace, free from the fear of Ostrich Rape. If you would like to find out more about Ostrich Rape, go to www.wikihow.com/Survive-an-Encounter-with-an-Ostrich