Kickoff written by lfeatherby

Dankbaar (thanks)

A trip goes wrong for a professor and his son.

“This is tedious,” complained Tebogo to his father as they drove through the reserve, “Why do we have to be here?”. Tebogo already knew about his father’s job, but he was hoping for a more specific answer. His father, Dr. Zander Adams, was the top biology professor at the University of Cape Town and had gone into the field to collect data for a study.
Once Tebogo was done, Zander replied, “I know you’d rather be back home with your friends, but your mother and I didn’t name you ‘resentful’. I thought that this would be a good opportunity for you since you’ve never been to Kruger before. I would say that you should take this time to look around since you might never see anything like this again, at the rate humanity’s going”. Tebogo was loathe to admit that his father had a point and instead took in the sights; the park was stunning. The bright sun setting on the horizon gave the autumnal colours of the Mopani trees an unearthly glow. Around every turn a new wonder waited. It was their last
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safari, but Tebogo had seen more than most could hope to see in a lifetime. His favourite experience by far had been earlier that day when a male elephant had stopped in front of their car. The elephant’s leg had been injured, most likely in a fight with another male, and it walked with a limp. Even so, there was no fear in the elephant’s eyes, only curiosity. It had been wonderful, and Tebogo supposed that anyone would be thankful to have been here.
As they continued on, Tebogo got curious about his father’s study again. “What did the university send you to do, papa? I know you have to be here for your job, but what are you researching?”, he pressed. Zander knew how far his son’s curiosity extended and was surprised that he had lasted so long without asking.
“In the past century, elephant tusk size has halved. It’s vital that we that we find a solution for this problem, whether that’s more sanctuary or stricter limitations on poaching. In order to find it, my team needs information,” explained
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Zander. Tebogo didn’t understand why elephant tusks were so important and asked his father. “Elephants use their tusks for gathering food as well as defense and offense. In times of drought, elephants will also use their tusks to dig water holes. Tuskless elephants have a strenuous job in raising their young while providing for themselves. Without this magnificent species, other animals would have a very hard time finding the water they need to sustain themselves in the dry season. Did you know we have elephant tusks in our country’s crest? They represent wisdom, moderation and eternity. If the gods existed, although we both know that’s impossible, they would take the form of elephants, the ones who forged the savannah with their steps.”
As the sun set, the sky turned from burning red to royal blue, creating eerie forms that crept through the bush. The pair decided to make their way back to the lodge, as it would be difficult to see any more animals. Their progress stalled when Zander spotted
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lights bobbing by the waterhole in the distance. A feeling of foreboding, something he had never felt before rushed through Tebogo as they got closer to the flashlights. The air thickened, crackling with electricity, and the sky turned a few shades darker as clouds assembled overhead; a storm was brewing. The hair on Tebogo’s neck stood up on end. As they reached the edge of the forest, Zander noticed something peculiar. Every man congregated by the waterhole was armed. There were five trucks, with large curved white objects in the cargo beds, all around five feet long. They looked disturbingly familiar, but Tebogo didn’t dwell on them. Zander realised all too quickly that they were looking at a group of poachers.
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