The Hare and the Elephant
Every day we watch the cam view at Nkorho, and while the critters may vary, there is one thing that stands steady and strong, the marula tree. Regarded as a sacred tree in Africa, the marula is protected in communal lands under the local chief. Because of its leafy foliage and shade-bearing size, it is popular with villages for local meetings, and often in a ploughed field will be the only tree left standing. The marula tree is often the spiritual centre for ritual activity in kraals and villages.
The marula trees are both male and female, with the female bearing the fruit. A leafy tree, the marula can produce up to 500 kg of fruit per year. These fruits are prized by the people, and enjoyed by animals as well as they ripen in February and March. Festivals are held all over South Africa to celebrate the harvest and bring in the new months of planting.
Along with the traditional festivals, there are many legends and ceremonies that include the marula tree. It is well known by South Africans that the elephant loves the ripe fruit of the marula, and will go to great lengths to get the fruit. Tradition has it that a Hare helped an elephant during a time of drought, and to thank him, the elephant presented the Hare with a tusk. The Hare buried it in his garden and then enjoyed the wonderful fruit in times of famine. From then on, the elephant is said to be looking for his tusk as he devours the fruit from the marula tree.
There are many more legends and lore’s about this prolific fruit bearer. Perhaps we will share another one soon. But for now...when the fruit begins to ripen over the next months and we see and elephant searching for the succulent mouthfuls, I bet we’ll all smile and remember the Hare that buried the tusk.