Plight of the condor

IMAGE (C) YOUNG WORLD, THE HINDU, 2015

While the mission was difficult, the plan was simple. But would everything go as planned?

Spookjet landed with a soft thud on a high plateau of the Andes in South America. In the pale sunshine of the morning, the jagged and crisscrossing copper-coloured mountains looked awesome.

A difficult mission

“I want to go back home,” said Ms. Kiwi. She shuddered and closed her eyes as she looked down a deep gorge. Tuatara and Weta looked green and ill, as they all stood on the high rocky plateau. Even Kea and Kaka looked doubtful. Was this mission to save one of the largest birds on earth too ambitious?

“How do we reach the top of these high mountains to meet the Condor?” wailed Tuatara. As if on cue, a voice spoke from behind.

“Hi, I am Mama Llama. These are my two sons — Aroma and Dilemma. We could take you to the top.”

She has heard a lot about the Moa-ists and she was determined to help them in every way she could.

The SPOOK members loaded a basket of food and another with a human baby doll wrapped in a big fluffy pink towel on mama’s back. While Kea, Kaka and Ms. Kiwi perched on her back, Tuatara sat on Aroma’s back and Weta on Dilemma’s. The long trek was exhilarating and the Moa-ists felt better.

“Hey Dilemma, we have seen a condor on Skype, but really how does he look?” asked Weta, the insect from far away New Zealand.

“Well, this vulture is huge with black feathers all over his body, a white ruffle around his neck and a red bald head. His big claws and beak I fear the most. He flies like a plane and doesn’t flap his wings. I don’t know how he keeps flying though,” explained the young llama.

Aroma cut in impatiently, “The condor rides on thermals — rising hot air. By the way, why are you carrying a baby doll with you?”

Before Tuatara could reply, an enormous black bird glided over them. Kea and Kaka waved excitedly to him and lifted up the basket with the baby doll in it. The mighty bird scooped down and carried it off with his claws.

“Phase one of our plan is over,” said Kaka in excitement.

Kea too looked happy. “Mama Llama, please take us to the villages and farmlands where cruel men shoot down these beautiful birds. There you will see Phase two of our plan unfolding.”

Soon they reached a cluster of villages nearby. There was confusion among a large group of men who stood watching a condor glide by, carrying a baby in a basket.

An important-looking man in the crowd twirled his moustache thoughtfully. “Put down your guns, friends. We cannot shoot the bird lest we kill the baby. Lure him down with a large piece of meat.” The vulture noticed the Moa-ists asking him to come down. He gently put down the basket near the crowd amid whistles and cheers.

“Good,” said Ms. Kiwi as she walked up to give a speech to those callous men who killed for sport. “Congratulations for saving a plastic doll and for not shooting this magnificent bird. I hope you understand that every creature on this planet deserves the same concern and care that you show to your own kind. I hope it’s a lesson well-learnt.”

The condor, llamas and the Moa-ists cheered Ms. Kiwi while the men hung their heads in shame.

Published as part of a series titled SPOOK Nook in Young World, The Hindu on July 9, 2015.

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