Being a biker requires one to be well read, well-mannered and supremely knowledgeable. In this respect, I am happy with most of the bikers but there’s one body of knowledge that bikers treat casually and yet it is such critical knowledge. I am talking about knowledge of the various types of animals found in this beautiful world we live in.
You are about to close this page and go elsewhere but I urge you to check your impulsiveness. You think you know all about animals because you have read books and watched David Attenborough, but you are a miserable impostor of knowledge and I shall show this.
There are four kinds of animals: Domestic animals which are found around our homes offering food or labour, pet animals which are also found around our homes offering companionship, wild animals which are found in the wilderness offering balance to the ecosystem and road animals which are found around our roads offering excitement or terror.
Sir David Attenborough has spent a lifetime educating the world all about animals, but has never uttered a single word about road animals. Lucky for you, I am the David Attenborough of road animals and I shall undertake in the next few words to rid you of your ignorance so that you may be a better biker and perhaps even a better human being all round.
My interest in road animals started one sunny day, somewhere near Suswa town, as I was riding towards Narok. Wait. Please do not think that I am not telling the truth because I have begun this with story with the words “one sunny day”. It was indeed a sunny day and I must therefore tell it as it is, even if I have to resort to such hackneyed phrases.
So, one sunny day as I was riding my bike towards Narok, I caught sight of an animal lying on the road. As I got closer I could make out that the animal was a dog. It was a marvellous dog, the best I had ever seen. It appeared healthy, well fed and had a well-developed chest. From the way it lay on its back with its four legs straight in the air, I imagined that it must have had a very good meal over lunch, and it therefore needed to let digestion happen without any encumbrances upon its stomach. I do this myself sometimes so I was able to immediately understand its method.
What a great sight it was to see such a healthy and content dog! As I got closer, I realised that it too knew that it was a happy and content dog because it was smiling. Across the left side of it’s face (some say snout), I could see a perfect set of sharp canines flashing at me in an irrepressible smile. As I got closer and closer, I could see that the smile was still in place, unchanging and this touched me. The sight of this joyous dog was too good to ride past and so I slowed down and opened my helmet’s visor to take a closer look and perhaps exchange pleasantries with it.
What greeted me was not the healthy joyous dog I expected but a badly mutilated corpse (some say carcass) of a dog. The stench from the corpse was at least 500 horsepower strong and I caught it all in the chest, none of it was wasted. What I thought was a smile was in fact a face, whose entire left side was lacking in skin and flesh thereby exposing the teeth and bone underneath.
When you are on a bike, you catch sights and smells in their raw unfiltered format. So, to give my chest a chance to catch some clean air, I squeezed the throttle and accelerated away, to reflect upon the gruesome sight.
As I explained, it was this incident that drew me to the subject of road animals and I resolved to learn all about this class of animals. My diligent studies have literally taken the breath away and are now being described in some quarters as ‘ground breaking’. Take the next few words merely as a synopsis into a wide and complex are of study that is being pioneered with great self-sacrifice by a kind and conscientious man.
I invented the term ‘Road Kill’ to describe animals that are killed by being ran over a road. It could be a dog such as the one in this story or a cat attempting to begin a tenth life, it could also be a zebra or even a lizard – all I describe as road kill.
Maasai Cow is a term used to describe a type of cows, usually found in Nairobi, that nonchalantly cross city roads with incomparable grace and calmness. They interfere with traffic, annoy business people and drop green mud for bike tyres to skid on. Their defining feature is their calmness and nonchalance while being an absolute nuisance.
Huddling Sheep refers to small herds of sheep, usually found in the hotter parts of the country, huddling together to form a shade for their heads, to shield from the hot afternoon sun. They are almost always found around a sharp bend where you are certain to get acquainted with the herd by way of a collision, making road kill of some of them.
Honey Donkey refers to asses, usually found around Naivasha, that cause accidents when they chase each other across the road as part of their mating rituals. Honey Donkeys are magnificent beasts for keeping time and schedule. First, they schedule to mate on the exact day that you shall be riding through Naivasha and secondly, they time their run across the road so accurately that a collision with you is inevitable. Typically, the running ritual begins seconds after the female donkey delivers a devastating double kick on the male donkey’s chin. During my field study, a donkey, through an interpreter, told me that this kick is the equivalent “let’s go to the bedroom” in the Hi-Ho language that most donkeys in Kenya speak.
When my book on road animals is ready I shall send you a link, for now, be content with this synopsis.