October 7, 2010

This is a story of a zebra that earned his stripes by proving his rank.

As some of us know, there is a Plains zebra on the reserve that does not particularly like hanging out with his own kind, in fact he has taken a liking to the rare Watusi cattle herd that grazes Gondwana plains. Everyone always thought that he had an identity crisis. However recently my fellow horsemen and I found out that this is not entirely the case.

One afternoon we were riding out on three of our biggest horses. We came across the herd of Watusi, including its strangest stripy member. We kept a distance as we didn’t want to disturb their peace. Peace, however was not on this zebra’s train of thought, because out of nowhere the zebra came trotting towards us on horseback. Now this is often normal for cattle to be inquisitive and I thought he must have learned it from his adopted herd. Under the circumstances this would’ve been normal if the zebra stopped and gave a vacant stare like cattle do. Unfortunately he did not stop, but rather flatten his ears and increased speed.

Naturally, I became mildly worried and when the horses spotted the charging zebra they became, well, a little more than ‘mildly worried’. This I could understand, I would also stress is something that looks like it escaped from jail ran angrily at me!

My horse gave a leap forward almost leaving me behind and bolted off, though I must admit I was reluctant to stop him. The other two quickly followed as the zebra continued to run after us for a while. Eventually he stopped when he realised his legs are after all three times shorter than those of our horses, but to keep his pride he gave a whinny that would have any stallion jealous; as if to say: “yeah, you better run!”.

What would’ve happened if we stood our ground is a mystery, but even if the zebra’s whinny is worse than his bite, you have got to admire his courage. That’s when I realized that this is no confused zebra, he knows he is a zebra but he has ambition, because he is the Watusi guardian. Come rain, hail or humongous shire horses, he will protect this herd.

We look at the photo of this herd at Kwena lodge and no longer pity a confused zebra, but we admire Mukani meaning ‘the one who fights’ in Shona, native language where Watusi originated.

Mark and Wendy can rest assured that their precious herd of Watusi is in the safe hooves of this brave little stripy warrior.

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