After fortifying my back with a generous slathering of Panadiol CBD lotion (for the uninitiated, this curious contraption of a muscle is the transversospinalis-semispinalis) and carting my canvas chair to a vantage spot, I began the whimsical task of watching the most peculiar member of the Suidae family – the warthog. He was a charismatic warthog, or so I choose to believe, whom I named Truffle. Truffle, however, is no ordinary warthog. He was my protagonist for the week, and I spent my days carefully observing his behavior and home, all the while indulging in my eccentric pastime of naming every mammal Truffle encountered and concocting colorful conversations between them.
Nuzzling the cool binoculars to my eager eyes, I was immediately rewarded with a sight of Truffle, trotting along jauntily in the vast plains of Africa. A patchwork of dry grass, mud, and the odd termite mound marked the homestead of Truffle, a spectacle made even more vivid by the ochre tones of the setting sun.
An inquisitive little bub, Truffle bumped into a curious meerkat – whom I named Whistleby – while digging for roots. I imagined Whistleby quipping ironically at Truffle, "Digging for buried treasure, mate, are we?" to which Truffle snorted nonchalantly, "The only treasure I need is food, mate!"
Over the course of the next few days, I began to observe a peculiar pattern to Truffle's day. Mornings were meant for marathon mud baths – where he would mingle with other warthogs, splashing about and rolling in the earth, transforming into mottled grey apparitions. These mud-bathing rituals, I deduced, provided him with a natural sunblock and a barrier against parasitic ticks and flies.
Afternoons were generally spent foraging for food – grubs, bulbs, berries, and truffles – well, the kind you eat, not the kind you observe excitedly. Those daily foraging excursions were filled with extraordinary camaraderie with Truffle's forest mates – the warthogs, meerkats, and my newfound favorite, a honey badger, whom I had christened Rumpy.
A most amusing interaction unfolded when Rumpy, notorious for his fearless hunting, nonchalantly filched a hearty grub from Truffle. I imagined Rumpy cackling, "No hard feelings, Truffle, but a badger's got to eat!" while Truffle grumbled and frowned adorably, "Well, Rumpy, you can eat my dust next time!"
Evenings were earmarked for gratuitous wallowing in shallow pools and Truffle's trademark grooming sessions with Oxpecker – a bird kind enough to rid his bristly body of pests. While Oxpecker set about his task diligently, I imagined him chirping, "Truffle, you are the dustiest, grubbiest warthog I've ever met" and Truffle replying with a warm grunt, "Thanks Oxpecker, I consider that a compliment!"
The days faded into a rich portrait of Truffle's life – a life marked by fun, frolic, and camaraderie. My Panadiol treated back heaved a sigh of relief as I eased my weary body from my makeshift animal observatory but my heart was heavy, bidding farewell to Truffle and his friends.
As a nature writer, the beauty of my task lies in stepping into the shoes (well, hooves or paws in this case) of my subjects. Connecting with these miracles of nature, whimsically naming them, and imagining their conversations are the perks of my eccentric job – but my time with Truffle was nothing short of extraordinary.