There’s a lovely sight I wake up to every morning when I go into the kitchen and look out across the clean, bright world beginning its day in Uganda. I feel fresh, invigorated – then I see them, stalking silently, furtively, around the trash pile – a disaster of ripped bags and food debris.
I head out, fingers gripping tightly around the handle loop. As I approach the garbage pile with all the courage and bravado I can muster, one bird gives me a beady eye stare, others shy away, and one approachs me boldy for the appetizing scraps of food and garbage I have bundled up tightly in a bag at my side. I start the wind-up from about 3o feet away, launching the bag into the air as the birds swarm to find the edible junk inside. While they’re distracted, I turn on my heels and fly back up the stairs to my flat, praying that marabou storks can’t sense fear like horses can.
Turns out that my fears have been mostly unfounded, since there are no documented cases of human death at the hand (or claw) of a marabou stork. But I wouldn’t put it past them.
Marabou storks are just about the ugliest birds in the universe, in case you are unfamiliar with this fine specimen. Their wingspan is more than 8 feet; their preferred form of food is large chunks of raw flesh, 2 pounds or bigger – but when that’s hard to come by, they feast on garbage. Word on the street is that marabou storks are so acidic inside, due to their diet, that when they die, they don’t decompose, they just mummify.
Can someone please tell me that my fear of taking out the trash – when I have flesh-eating, self-mummifying birds waiting to pounce – is justified?