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November 21, 2018

Greed lures people to destruction

IGNORED WARNING: The Biblical crossing of the Red Sea.
IGNORED WARNING: The Biblical crossing of the Red Sea.

There is a species of a gazelle in the wild called impala. The impala is arguably the cleanest and most agile of the gazelles that I happen to have seen in the bush.

They look elegant with the black tips on their legs and the two stripes that run on either side of their rear end which makes them look like bikini-clad models.

They are also very good at avoiding being eaten by the many predators that roam the African plains. The impala can jump over obstacles three meters high and 10 meters across. One more very special attribute of the impala is that they can change their direction on air.

One time it is facing north, it jumps a three-meter-high bush, but on landing, it is facing west. Any pursuing animal will have to slow down to be able to negotiate the turn. By then, the impala, going at a speed of about 60km/h, is way out of danger.

Such ingenuity gives the impala a high chance of survival in areas infested by numerous life-threatening predators. It is in order then, to say that the impala is well spread throughout the wildlife areas in the country. They are not in danger of extinction.

Indeed, before the government put a ban on killing animals even for consumptive purposes, people used the impala meat as a delicacy. They used dogs to hunt the impala, since the dogs can be said to be long distance runners just like the wild hunting dogs.

They would run down an impala until it is completely exhausted. Then hold it down till the owner turns up. Some used to hunt the impala by digging up holes in the paths to their waterholes. This was not a very preferred method since it was always difficult and gory to kill the animal inside a hole.

Most time, it would escape by jumping out when the hunter showed up to collect his prized catch. Sometimes the hole would trap a different animal, one that could be dangerous to the hunter.

One notable behaviour of the impala is that they live in social herds where there is one male leader with several females and young males as his charges. The leader or the territorial male is the one who determines the size and composition of his territory.

He also herds the whole group into areas of plenty of food and water, and less predators. Whenever the group is confronted by any type of danger, the male is tasked to alert the group, and make decisions on the road map to take to avoid the predator. It is safe to say then, survival of the species depends largely on how the leader reacts to different changes in their environment.

There was this particular group that used a large space within the plains somewhere in Africa. This particular group did not live together in a tightly-knit family unit. They rather spread out into the plains. That made it difficult to be hunted.

One clever man hatched a plan to have at least several of them at one go, and rear them captive at his home. He used the lure of freebies and gluttony to trap them. Greed was the operative word in the scheme.

Somewhere in the plains, he deposited already cut grass, green and healthy, with a little salt sprinkled around. At first, the leader was apprehensive to come to the food. But the lure of free food was more than he could take.

Day after day, he shepherded the whole group to the spot where the grass was green and freely available. They did not notice that the man had begun fencing the area, bit by bit. When the fence was complete, the whole group was inside the enclosure, busy feeding.

When the leader realised what had happened, his options had diminished. He had to surrender himself and his followers to the whims of the new leader, the man.

In the Bible, somewhere in the book of Exodus, the pharaoh of Egypt was given clear evidence that God wanted the Israelites out of bondage. But he remained adamant. In his pursuit for greatness, he led his best men of war, his chariots and horses, to stop the Israelites from escaping to the Promised Land. In total disregard of the plagues that had befallen his land as a warning of his wayward reign, he and his troops perished in the Red Sea crossing.

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