Friday, 15 November 2013

The Lizard

Lizards are essentially vegetarian snakes with legs and a cowardly demeanour (presumably a dietary issue).

Infuriatingly shy, lizards have sticky feet and flicky tongues and live under rocks or under things which it thinks are probably rocks. At first glance, these creatures seem fascinating. They are very much not.

They grow with each meal, although not to the same scale as the snake, due to their suspicious opinions on meat.

Their dung is of no interest to ants, and nor should it be. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Bison

The bison are known as Wilton beasts by the unfathomable boers. 

Up close to the herd, the odour reminds one of a starving horse I once had the misfortune to own. 

Big and aggressive, the bison spends most of each day protecting its territory from snakes. Teams of snakes coil round the bison's horns, causing the bison to become cross-eyed and likely to fall into a ravine were it can be eaten at leisure by snakes, crocodiles, or distinguished and handsome English travellers.

The Cheetah

Jolly pacey, these spotty buggers are excellent hunters.

They also make excellent house-pets, and can be domesticated by binding the cheetah's legs with something strong and uncomfortable then chanting vageuly mystical words at it for 72 hours.

I recently imported two for the young son of the Earl of Tewkesbury, who is sadly no longer with us, having had his throat ripped out by a cheetah. Sad business, really. 

The Cheetah nests wherever it bally well chooses.

The Flamingo

The flamingo is an effeminate cousin of the vulture. 

With its Wildean mating call, the flamingo lives on rancid brine which it struts about in like a pooftah up to its weird knees. 

Morally doubtful, the flamingo’s flamboyance and triviality make it repulsive to all. Nothing preys on the flamingo for fear of association. 

The nancy of the Nile.

The Wild Boar

A cross between a pig and a wildebeest, the wild boar is the least sporting prey in Africa. Small, hairy, angry and violent, the wild boar is at heart a porcine Irishman with tusks.

The female lays eggs then buries them like truffles, which the male then forages for, and upon finding a clutch, does his dirty business on them before attacking anything in sight in some sort of berserk post-coital orgy of violence; again, much like an Irishman.

The Vampire Bat

Smaller, airborne cousin of the venus flytrap, the vampire bat flies at night using smells, and avoids hitting things by tracking the flow of odours.

The vampire bat feeds on other bat's blood, with those bats surviving the attack then becoming vampire bats.
Most other bats feed only on bees. Contrary to the assurances of the elders of the Zumba tribe, I can confirm that bat droppings, however cooked, do not taste like honey.
Legend has it that if a member of the Zumba tribe is bitten by a vampire bat, a bite which apparently leaves no obvious mark, a terrible fate will fall on the village. This can only be avoided by the ancient ritual of Mutumbu, in which every member of the tribe must urinate on the tethered torso of an honoured guest, ideally European.

Please God, let there not be yet another attack this evening.

The Hyena

Essentially these are horrible and donkey-shaped dogs.

Hyenas are usually drunk on fermented monkeys, which explains their school-yard bully-boy antics and generally boorish behaviour and demented laughter.

The hyena kills it prey by running fast enough to catch it, then biting it until it is dead. Packs of these buggers live in the middle of nowhere, and they are as inedible as they are insufferable.

The Piranha

With its razor-sharp teeth, the piranha is capable of stripping an elderly, heavily-laden servant in minutes, although fortunately it is not so fond of expensive luggage!
 Will devour anything too lazy or stupid to get out of the water, with the notable exception of the crocodile, with its tough-as-old-boots hide and obvious resemblance to expensive luggage.
 Each of these appalling and tiny bastards has specially adapted eyes allowing it to see through the gallons of blood it invariably swims in. Capable of hiding in one's water bottle for days, the piranha can be defeated by urinating into the bottle then beating it to death with a stout shoe.

The Parrot

Clearly the most intelligent creature in the jungle as it is the only one that can speak, although its conversation tends to be unsophisticated and can tend towards repetition and bawdiness. 
Not suitable chatter for a lady, though fine for a slattern or unmarried mother.
 Its feathers are soft, durable and colourful, and make delightful comic merkins with which a rosy-cheeked scientist and adventurer may innocently amuse the prettier of the young Zumba women, in the privacy of his own tent, to their howls of presumed delight and rapture.
 If harshly reared with its claws, beak and wings removed, can be a wonderful toy for a brutish child.

The Vulture

Had to eat one once – they are only used as meals for visiting explorers, and I didn't want to be rude, despite the breathtakingly foul flavour. 

Leaner and squatter than its effeminate cousin, the flamingo – the vulture stinks to high heaven. Good God.
 The smell is akin to a rotting socialist, although noticed far sooner and considerably more affecting. Its dung defies description, and for that, dear reader, be thankful.

The Owl-Man

With the head of an owl and the body of an owl, the owl-man is almost indistinguishable from an owl apart from its feet, which resemble those of a red setter, and its tremendous size.

 Despite being over eleven feet tall, the owl-man  is rarely seen, possibly because it goes invisible when disturbed. Completely blind, the owl-man is believed to avoid colliding with things by flying very high in the air where there are fewer things to collide with, besides other owl-men. The owl-man eats mainly grubs, worms and babies, which it detects with its huge finger. 

I am at present unable to claim sight of this thing.

The Venus Flytrap

That the venus flytrap is very closely related to the vampire bat is surely no longer in dispute. To consider this fruit of the Hells as a plant betrays an ignorance that could be considered comical were it not so shamefully at home in my own fair country.

Swallowing large birds and small deer without so much as a blush, the venus flytrap is quite capable of the turning the most rational explorers dreams into the fevered horrors of a Byronesque opiate reverie for decades. 

This awful creature is extremely mobile but stays largely motionless to frustrate scientific observers and potential predators, of which it has none. The boiled stem of the Flytrap has a foul taste not unlike a Spitalfields whore's rennet, if one's memory serves.

The Lion

King of all the wild beasts of Africa, with the possible exception of the Zumba menfolk, one of whom bagged this fellow (fig. 2) while I flogged his brother for dropping my sandwich near some rhinoceros dung.
Large and heavily muscled, a single lion is capable of bringing down a herd of elephants inside twenty minutes. Taking advantage of the herd’s trunk-to-tail formation, its powerful hind legs propel it from the ground into the mouth of the lead elephant. 
Eating its way from throat to rectum, it then leaps into the mouth of the next elephant, and so on down the chain. I have yet to discover another animal that feeds in this fashion, making it one of the most remarkable sights in Nature.

The Giraffe

One of the most bizarre sights in Africa, with the possible exception of the owl-man. 

With its long legs, long neck, small mouth and tight anus, it is perfectly safe from lion attack.

It has, however, no such strategy to protect itself from a length of piano wire strung between two trees (fig. 3). The giraffe eats leaves.

The Mongoose

Smelling like a derelict privvy and attacking only snakes and scorpions, the mongoose is not one of the animal kingdom’s great thinkers.
It is thought that the mongoose’s refusal to clean its fetid underside is due to its highly developed tastebuds, believed capable of detecting a claggy odour from weeks away.
It hides in well-ventilated bunkers, and commits suicide when placed under extreme duress, by franticly licking its hindquarters.
The mongoose disguises the entrance to its bunker by means of a screen of twigs, which it binds together using its extremely viscous ejaculata.

The Anteater

This peculiar creature lives on ants, mainly found in the leaf litter at the base of the mango tree. 

It has only one natural predator - the falling snake carcass. It finds these unavoidable however, due to the ants it so loves to feed on being so attracted to the crap of the dozing snakes in the trees above. The anteater has a long face.

Snakes (and Eels)

I have placed snakes and eels together as they are essentially the same thing. 

With no legs, the snake propels itself along using some sort of devilry. It is profoundly evil and as untrustworthy as a Whitechapel orphan left alone for five minutes in one's private quarters for reasons which I have no need to defend here. 

The Zumba women use hollowed snakes to store hens' eggs. Adapting this idea, I have begun importing hollowed snakes to Great Britain, where they have become enormously popular as novelty billiard-ball bags. 

The snake is a unique proposition in the animal kingdom, with there actually only being one base type. All snakes are born with an insatiable lust for bison flesh, and will eat anything en route to a bison herd. The snake becomes noticeably changed after each meal, a grass snake will become a cobra after eating a vampire bat, for example. The final stage is the python stage, which is only achieved once the snake has finally consumed a bison. 

At this point, the snake climbs into a mango tree, where it sleeps for 15 years, then dies. The Zumba consider it extremely bad luck to be struck by the falling carcass of a 48 stone snake.

Eels are snakes, only wetter.

The Monkey

Perhaps the closest living relative of the elephant, there are two types of monkey; small and large.

Monkeys are believed by the Zumba to have developed highly complex social structures, although this would appear to be pure fantasy and has no basis whatsoever in scientific fact.

Fast and extremely agile, the smaller monkey makes for wonderful sport, and the hands of its larger cousin are ideal for the manufacture of whimsical ashtrays (fig. 4).

Small monkeys exist largely on peanuts, although in a barren period will eat cashews. Large monkeys exist largely on small monkeys, although in a barren period will eat cashews.

The Tortoise

A most versatile creature, with a shell capable of being a stunning soup terrine or a sturdy helmet for our brave men at war.
The tortoise enjoys being rolled onto its back and being poked with a cane, waving its legs and screeching in obvious delight, a charming creature.
Bake shell-down on an open fire for 14 hours. Revolting.

The Snail

The Zumba love to eat snails, and howl with delight at my tales of our Gallic cousins and their similarly repulsive culinary habits.
African snails are much like those found on our own fair shore, although enormous, carnivorous, and when the notion takes them, the Zumba assure me, lightning fast.
The snail’s pudenda is achingly beautiful, attracting suitors of all species, nationality and social standing.
The snail is horrifyingly promiscuous, and not to be trusted, least of with your heart.