What Pegman Saw: What’s Left Behind

Kihonda Rice Fields
Frank Marwa | Google Maps

She was four days gone when he came upon her. A grand dame of a beast, perhaps forty, although it was hard to say without her tusks. Flies buzzed around the carcass like static from a distant station. He listened for movement. Hyenas had been at the place where her head had been, but something had scared them off.

He padded across the soft dirt, studying the story left behind the slaughter: a drag of flattened grass, a tusk gouge where they’d hoisted their dirty prize onto their truck, and the twin crocodile-skin of their tire tracks, heading west. And then he saw it—an elephant track half as small as the murdered cow’s. Somewhere, there was a calf.

He raised his head, neck taut, scanning the mancala of whistling thorn and baobab trees which stretched as far as the horizon. Maybe this time, he wouldn’t be too late.

149 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories about the prompt, click here.

Elephant calves will sometimes remain by the slaughtered mothers for up to five days before they succumb to starvation. The mission of the Ivory Orphans in Tanzania is to find and protect these orphans until they can be raised to adulthood.

Learn more:

Tanzania says elephant, rhino populations rebounding after anti-poaching crackdown

Elephant Orphanage to Open in Tanzania


  1. This is great. Visceral, brisk, and hopeful. The description of the corpse hints at the gruesomeness but doesn’t go overboard. Just a really excellent story all around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much 🙂


  2. I liked the investigation feel to this, the person finding clues, confirming details of the gruesome act, leading to the redeeming outcome of finding the calf tracks–and a hope that can yet be salvaged. What a wonderful mission the Ivory Orphans are on! And what horrible things it says about humans that they’re needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, what a senseless slaughter. But glad there are people passionate about protecting these wonderful creatures. Thanks for reading, Joy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Karen,

    You put me in the moment. I find myself hopeful that this person will find the calf before it’s too late. I bear no ill will toward the hyenas who are only following instinct. The savage humans are another story. Infuriating, evocative and well written.



    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, glad it took you there. When I read about the calves lingering by their mothers, I knew where I had to go.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hope you liked mine. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. lillmcgill

    Excellent. Very well written. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!


  5. I admire those that are trying s hard to protect the elephants and saving the babies. Elephants are amazing creatures and quite the clan. You made my heart hurt then sore with this. Very well done. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lish, I seem to be having issues when I leave messages, both on my blog and others! I replied to this once already, but it vanished. I’m a big fan of elephants too. Thanks for reading!


  6. I can only echo Josh, Karen. Wonderful language, sparse but emotional, a really strong image that puts us in the moment. A visceral detective story. Fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn. Love your new picture btw. Thanks for reading 🙂


      1. My pleasure. 😀


  7. peterkirsch

    Oh KR, you’ve hit on a very emotional subject for me. Thank you for raising awareness and dedicating the time.

    At first, from “He padded…” and “neck taut” I thought it was a bull elephant who happened upon her. For some reason those words felt pachydermal to me. It was not until your post-script that I realized it was a man.

    Heart-wrenching story. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for reading and thanks for the feedback. You make a very good point. Definitely something to be mindful of.


      1. I felt just like Peter about the pachydermal nature of the words.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the feedback!


  8. peterkirsch

    I’m not certain of the proper derivation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent story, Karen. Removing tusks from a murdered elephant seems to me to be the worst desecration imaginable. It appals me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a crime. Elephants are noble, social, intelligent creatures. Thanks for reading & glad you liked the story.


  10. Cara Hartley

    Wonderful and heartbreaking. Poaching is a crime that needs to be taken seriously. Thank you for writing and sharing this.
    ~Cie from Naughty Netherworld Press~

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.