Mandela Rhodes Scholars
Mandela Rhodes Scholars

Kenya’s animal science phenomenon

Submitted by Lionel Faull

Lionel Faull stumbles across an entry in the little-known East African Journal of Animal Behavioural Science

Kenya is world famous for its wilderness safari experience, thanks to its magnificent landscapes and teeming wildlife. A new species of mammal has recently emerged, however, whose predatory characteristics have thrown the tourism sector into chaos, laid waste to whole habitats and caused forced migrations of thousands of human beings. Scientists have been puzzled by this natural phenomenon, and have ventured to classify the mammal as Politicus avaricious maximus; commonly known as the greater greedy politician.

This creature is not wholly unfamiliar to scientists, given that it tends to engage in frenzied activity once every five years. However, one would be forgiven for thinking that the politicus hibernates for up to five years in between. The recent widespread surprise among scientists at the sudden disastrous impact of the feeding habits of politicii can therefore be attributed to complacency on the scientists’ part, rather than total ignorance of the existence of this species.

The social habits of a typical politicus are confusing. A few weeks prior to a time commonly referred to in scientific circles as “general elections”, all specimens under observation tend to become extremely territorial, suddenly remembering the bounds of their individual territory (known as constituencies) and hissing loudly should any other politicus make their presence felt anywhere in the vicinity.

At this point, one must point out that male politicii outnumber the females 10 to one. Despite this, one must not make the mistake of assuming that the female is any less greedy or destructive than the male; the male presence is only felt more strongly through sheer force of numbers.

Similarly deceptive is the inclination of politicii to organise themselves into one of two seemingly antagonistic groups, and for tensions between the groups to play themselves out in the weirdly disconcerting habit that politicii have of simultaneously growling, scratching the ground violently and urinating most decisively on anything upright while within full view of their rivals.

The distinction between groups is purely artificial, and would appear to be a figment of the species’ own imagination. Close behavioural analysis shows that no politicus is loyal to the same group for more than five years at a time and that, in fact, each politicus has fought both with and against every other politicus at some point during their life (which can span as much as 85 years, and during the course of which they appear to become ever greedier and ever more tenacious).

Indeed, once general elections are over and the politicii are no longer “on heat” or “in season”, it would appear as if they realise that they are one homogenous species after all, united by their mutual hunger for conspicuous consumption. Cue a recently identified and admittedly ingenious form of social bonding known as a “government of national unity”. As many as 92 politicii have been observed feasting harmoniously at one single carcass in recent months; a feat that has never before been recorded in the history of the natural sciences in Kenya.

Lionel Faull is broadening his mind with a master’s degree in English literature, but his ultimate destination is training and developing young journalists on the African continent.