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A Botswana Folk Story

It was a long, long time ago in Botswana's Okavango Delta, tortoise was crawling along when he met Serval on the path.

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Serval asked him if he had eaten that day, being the middle of winter, food was scarce so tortoise had not eaten and replied with a gloomy “no”. Serval laughed mischievously and asked tortoise to follow him, he told tortoise that there was dinner prepared for the two of them at home.

Tortoise gratefully accepted his invite, Serval bounded off ahead with tortoise following much further behind. Tortoise finally reached Serval's home, when he got there Serval mocked tortoise about how slow he was but he re-assured tortoise that dinner was served – Serval pointed upwards into the tree where dinner was placed in amongst the highest branches. Poor tortoise was so disappointed, this meal was too far from his reach – it was all a prank played by Serval, who was rolling on the floor laughing.

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A few weeks later, Serval received a dinner invitation from tortoise. At first Serval was suspicious at the invitation, but he did not second guess himself for long as he knew what a good-natured creature tortoise is.

Being the dry season, tortoise burned a patch of grass around his home just next to the river, he prepared dinner and waited for Servals arrival. Serval arrived but having trampled across the burned grass, he was filthy dirty. Tortoise was not happy that Serval was dressed like this for dinner so he told Serval off for his bad manners and made him walk to the river for a wash. Serval scampered off to the river, he was starving and tortoises’ dinner smelt delicious.

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Serval washed himself quick and ran across to tortoise but, once again when he got there, he was covered in black marks from the burnt grass. Tortoise shouted at Serval for his dirty state and sent him off to the river for another wash, Serval could see all the dinner was disappearing.

This kept on happening and Serval could see the food was disappearing fast, as tortoise gulped down the last morsel serval realized he had been tricked. Serval ran all the way home across the burned grass and tortoise was content that he had gotten revenge on serval.

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To this day Serval is still covered in black spots from the soot of the burned flood plain!

Images by Relax (professional guide at Shinde), Moses (specialist guide) and Bonolo (professional guide at Shinde)