My friend Esther recently returned from a trip to Tanzania, Africa, where she and a friend had the privilege of watching the Great Migration in the Serengeti. It was the trip of a lifetime as they saw an amazing array of people, scenery and animals –including elephants that woke them in the wee hours each morning as the huge beasts wandered through camp eating the trees around their tents.
Her most incredible story, however, was about the courageous intervention and rescue by a hippo at the Mara River crossing. If I hadn’t seen the pictures she captured on her camera, I would not have believed it could happen. In her own words,
We were witness to a guardian hippo that scooped up young zebra and wildebeest as they were carried downstream in the currents. She would walk with them across the sand bar, or carry them in her mouth to the safety of the shore on the other side of the river. We watched her do this several times as crocodile and vultures lie in wait for those struggling to make it safely across the Mara River.
Guardian Hippo rescuing a young Wildebeest
In stark contrast, the week prior to Esther’s return I saw a Time magazine with a horrific cover of a beautiful young woman whose nose was missing. A story about betrayal and injustice, this young Afghan woman had fled from abusive in-laws and was later captured by the local Taliban. Held down by her brother-in-law, her husband meted out her punishment by cutting off her ears, then her nose, leaving her to die in a remote mountainside to which she had been drug.
I was heartsick for days after reading about this ghastly abuse, unsettled that any woman should ever have to endure such acts of violence –even as she pleaded for mercy! A cloud of sorrow hung over me that I couldn’t seem to shake off. Then Esther came home.
There is the now familiar statement, It takes a Village . . .
I’d like to add a new one, It takes a Hippo . . .
The Guardian Hippo not only rescued young zebra and wildebeest on a faraway river in Africa, she rescued me! And when I can’t make sense out of senseless atrocity, when I feel the currents of life beginning to pull me under while crocodiles of anguish and despair stand ready to eat me alive, I will remember the improbable truth about an African hippo on the Mara River.
Against all odds –a guardian of life!