Friday, September 10, 2010

"Turkanas eat everything..."

"...but we do not eat that", said our good friend and house guest Julius Lmuya.
"I have seen this kill cobra".
Little did Julius know that for three days prior to his overnight visit to the Fursa Children Center, a hedgehog had been loose in our house and was last seen under his bed. We would have been happy to help him find the door, but the little fella only made mysterious midnight appearances, hiding during the day. At about 4am the first Night of The Hedgehog- a full moon midway through the Ramadan celebration- after hours of rolling around in shallow sleep, I heard a snorting noise. I opened my eyes to find an unidentified thing 6 inches from my face, arms up, claws entangled in my UNICEF mosquito net, two black eyes looking at me angrily. He wrestled himself free as I jack-knifed up and sat motionless, eyebrows raised. A clumsy chase ensued by headlamp, but he escaped. I was unprepared.
The next night, he appeared again, this time in the adjacent room, snorting, rooting, big prickly butt swaying as he searched for an exit along the cement wall. We surveyed his mood, his speed, devised a plan and moved some furniture. Moments later, we advanced on him, like skittish children, stuck to a dare- pot lid and sawed-off water jug in hand. The cobra killer waited, having made himself into a ball, an ideal choice for fending off would-be biters. As he lay there, tucked, smiling his nosy, lipless little smile, anticipating our first strike, he was instead confronted with bravery, human ingenuity, plastic and aluminum. He was documented and released without losing a quill.

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