Injury Update: Kobe Bryant has a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. He is expected to miss 6 weeks.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 19, 2013
While Australia might be the continent with the most flora and fauna that can stop you dead in your tracks, Africa is the continent of choice for big-game hunters. There, one will find the “Big Five,” the five animals most difficult to hunt on foot. Four of the five make sense: the leopard, the lion, the black rhinoceros and the African elephant are all dangerous creatures in their own right, legendary animals known throughout the world.
The fifth of the Big Five is somewhat less heralded, though it’s often considered to be the most dangerous to humans of all: the cape buffalo. The buffalo is extraordinarily aggressive, attacking anything it sees that it feels doesn’t belong. Vehicles, camps, people — none are safe from the goring horns and 2,000-pound mass of a cape buffalo. That mass and that mentality would be enough to secure this tank made of flesh’s inclusion on the Big Five list, but the cape buffalo has another trick up its sleeve.
You see, the cape buffalo is veritably bulletproof. It takes a “thumb-sized” round to take down one of these creatures. They’re too large for any one shot to do much damage if it hits the body, and their horns grow to a fused plate at the front of the skull that gives them a nigh impenetrable helmet. An attempt at hunting a cape buffalo is an attempt at drawing the animal into a charge that will likely result in the hunter being on the business end of a pissed off leviathan hell-bent on destroying everything in its wake.
Were that not enough, the cape buffalo is an exceedingly smart animal. You only get one opportunity to take down such a large, sturdy creature. Failure leaves a wounded creature, but leaving the cape buffalo behind after an unsuccessful hunt isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. This animal remembers. It wants revenge. Take its pride and pierce its flesh and it will remember. It will hunt you down. The cape buffalo will lure you into tracking it after the initial volley leaves the creature wounded.
Its trail of blood becomes an easily read map to where a hunter might finish the job and claim the prized kill. Or so it would seem; in reality, the cape buffalo is circling around while you follow the path its willingly left for you. And just as you notice the way the trail bends back around, the gargantuan lummox is on you. Trampling. Goring. Taking no prisoners, wanting no quarter. Vengeance belongs to the cape buffalo when injury is the hand dealt.
Usually, anyway. Because sometimes, the cape buffalo is hurt beyond the point of making its mark known on the world that has treated it so cruelly. Some wounds are so great that not even a creature as legendary as this can overcome the pain and damage.
Sometimes, the cape buffalo doesn’t get back up, as much as it might try. Eventually, the cape buffalo stays down.