Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Battle at Kruger Park and the Protection of the Vulnerable

In her book, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small, Marian Wright Edelman tells this compelling story about the need to protect the vulnerable by urgently working together as a community:

"One of the most-watched videos on YouTube shows the struggle of a water buffalo family and herd to save a child. It’s called the Battle at Kruger Park."

"It begins with a buffalo mother, father, and child meandering peacefully ahead of the herd, unaware that a pride of six lions are stealthily easing up to attack them. Sensing the danger too late, the water buffalo parents and calf immediately turn and run away. The child cannot keep up. The six swift lions lunge and overpower this slowest and most vulnerable family member, tumbling with him into a river. As the lions attempt to pull the buffalo calf from the water, an alligator grabs one of the child’s legs, eager to share the bounty. The tug of war between the lions and alligators over the young buffalo prey seems to last a painful eternity. As the lions win and drag the buffalo child onto land and surround him, ready for the kill, you realize, joyfully, that the child is still alive, but are horrified that he now is going to be devoured."

"In the middle of this life-and-death drama, you suddenly hear and then see movement as a large herd of water buffalo—a rescue posse—come storming in to surround the lions, who do not immediately relinquish the child despite being greatly outnumbered. After a moment of herd uncertainty, one angry buffalo—who I just know was the mother—furiously attacks a lion with her horns and hurls him away. Others in the herd follow her lead and confront another lion, but still are unable to extricate the child. Another attempt succeeds as the child struggles to its feet, and the herd swiftly surround and whisk him away. A buffalo remains to chase a remaining lion away."

Marian Wright Edelman concludes with this application:
"Incredulous that the child was saved, I asked myself: Where is our human posse—our community posse—as the human lions and alligators eat our children alive across America today? And what are the lessons this thrilling rescue of a water buffalo child provide us about our responsibility to protect and save our endangered children?"

Source: Marian Wright Edelman, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 31-32.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some of the lead characters in the cast in the drama of The Battle at Kruger Park.