Monday, September 10, 2007

A Bed Time Story From The Jungle

The jungle had been in turmoil for many years and the elephants had suffered. The old game warden had died. His son who followed him had served admirably, but he had to retire to take care of his family. The herd missed the son, but they loved him and they understood why he had to leave.

The hired men who followed neither understood the jungle nor loved the elephants it protected. These men became distracted, somehow believing that the grass could be greener on the other side of the river. With no real game warden to protect them, the elephants who had dominated the forest for as long as any of the other animals could remember fell pray to the evil poachers who twisted the rules to suit their purposes. The poachers bribed the government to look the other way. They hid themselves any time an honest law enforcement officer approached. They even seduced a few of the greedier elephants with promises of unlimted access to the river and all the hay they could eat. And the herd suffered.

While these substitute game wardens slept the poachers hunted the herd, killing the bravest and strongest first because they bore the largest tusks. And the herd suffered still more.

Cut off from the lushest parts of the jungle, the elephants' bodies began to waste away while all the other animals were allowed to graze at will. The reptiles, hogs and tigers even were allowed eat their fill from the herd's territory, because there was no real game warden to protect them. The pigs came from the west and the wildcats from the north. The Tigers that lived on their east and west boundries devoured the weak and the giant reptiles ate the elephants when they went to the swamp to quench their thirst.

Not many of the mighty pachyderms survived. But those who did resolved to patiently reclaim their proper place in the forest.

Then one day the king hired a new game warden to enforce the laws of the forest, a man who appreciated the beauty and majesty of the pachyderms. This man had lived in the forest before. He had trained with the tigers and had tamed the reptiles. He knew both of their ways and how best to face and defeat them. This brave and resolute man vowed to save the elephants; to bring them back to prominence.

The new Game Warden's first steps were modest, but every elephant in the forest came to see him perform his magic. So many came that many had to be turned away at the door because the Forest Rangers were afraid they might start a fire that could harm both the forest and the elephants.

So determined was the new Game Warden that several of the younger elephants had to be tamed to cure their bad habits. One of the stonger bulls had to apologize to the herd for his ill-timed jesting. Some of the older elephants tried to creep back into the forest from their hiding place behind the waterfall, but the brave Game Warden would not allow them to contaminate the new spirit of the herd. He shoved them out of the jungle.

The new Game Warden brought food to the herd. He led them to water. He bandaged their wounds and he told them the ancient stories of their fathers who had conquered the forest time and again. He taught them discipline. He taught them determination. He taught them how to be tough and strong again. And many of the young bulls listened, believed, and followed.

As the herd was beginning to regain some of their lost weight, a group of wildcast from the east tried to invade their territory. Some of the baby bulls were afraid of the cats, but at the Warden's insistence the young adults marched forward and stomped the cats into the ground.

The warden learned that the sailors to the north had stolen some of the herd's food, so he led the elephants up there, took back the food, and sank the boats.

The rumor is that the pigs from the east are headed toward the forest to plunder the elephants' food. But the Warden has put his biggest and stongest bulls at the edge of their territory and they fully intend to send the pigs squeeling back home.

The Warden knows he likely will lose a few of his beloved bulls when the Tigers invade from the west in a few weeks. The preservation of the herd always comes at great cost. But the elephants do expect to be ready for the rifle bearing hunters from the north; and the tigers from the east no longer will feast on the herd, because the weak already have been picked off.

The Game Warden now displays a sign on his desk that reads: "The cowards never started. The weak died along the way. Only the strong made it through." The herd will survive and thrive and by following the new Game Warden the elephants soon will retake their position as the true kings of the forest.

And that, children, is how the balance of nature in the forest was restored.

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