I was lying in bed with my boyfriend the other night listening to the constant meowing of the cat we decided to adopt a month ago on the other side of the door. Mac or, as I like to call him, Double Big Mac – cos he’s got really thick bones – wanted to sleep with us but that was not going to happen. I don’t let him sleep with us because he always tries to wake me up at 02h. The following conversation ensued:
My boyfriend: Poor Mac, you should let him in.
Me: No, he pounced on my chest before licking my face last night. He totally assaulted me.
My boyfriend: Well, the Internet says you should play dead.
Me: You mean like with grizzly bears? Hmmm… or I could just club him in the head, you know?
Even in the dark I could see that judging look of his, so I proceeded to explain myself. One day when I was volunteering in South Africa, I decided to go to an elephant sanctuary. There I found myself walking along an elephant pack accompanied by a park guard.
“You know, you should always have a stick with you.” She told me, clutching the huge stick she had been carrying around with her the whole time.
“What is that for, anyway? Are you going to do pole vaulting?” I asked. In all fairness, the stick was probably about 2 meters long and she was very, very, very small. Small enough in fact, that I wondered if she had six brothers and previous mining experience.
Suddenly, she stopped and looked at me slightly nervous. I looked at her quizzically and asked her what was going on, but she was too busy talking to another park ranger over the radio.
“See there?”, she asked. My eyes followed in the direction of her finger and I noticed a couple of ostriches a few hundred meters away seemingly minding their own business.
“Yeah?” I replied still not understanding what was happening.
“This is bad.” She replied. As she said that, I noticed how the ostriches were suddenly closer to us; the distance between them and us was now less than a hundred meters.
“I’m happy I brought this with me.” She said holding the stick close to her. “Quickly, look around and grab a stick too.”
So of course I looked around and grabbed the stick closest to me. She looked at me and I immediately saw the disappointment in her eyes.
“You need a long and thick stick to hit the ostrich with it, not to pretend you’re Harry Potter!”
She then proceeded to explain how you have to use the stick to protect your stomach in case of an ostrich attack, as they usually kick their opponents there and then tear them apart with their claws. She then told me to always aim for the head since they were so small that there were basically no bones protecting their brain, so any hit there can stun them immediately and give you enough time to run away from them.
The ostriches in question were both males and in heat, so they were even more aggressive than the average ostrich. That being said, running was not an option since they can catch up with you in no time. Thankfully the ranger she had been talking to, arrived in a Jeep and saved me from getting mauled to death by Big Bird.
So, yeah, this is perhaps the one time when the length and girth of a stick actually does matter.
PS. No animals, cat or ostriches, were harmed as of the writing of this post.