After a few minutes he spotted Perry hopping back towards him. ‘Sorted,’ said the field mouse. ‘Just flap your ears when Otto’s ready. Brick and Brack will take care of the rest.’
‘Thanks, Perry. Now if only we could make sure Pink-Butt and the Boys don’t try to pull something like this again.’
‘Thought of that as well, big guy. Brenda’s kids are taking care of it as we speak. Look.’
Elephant peered at the watering hole and noticed the animals were slowly repositioning themselves. ‘Great idea, Perry. This is going to be good.’
A lone hadeda took to the sky on the other side, calling loudly three times and flew away. ‘There’s the signal,’ said Elephant and flapped his ears. ‘Let’s get closer to the action.’
When they reached the water’s edge the commotion was already starting. Brick and Brack were two huge buffalo bulls. They were also twins and notorious for never agreeing about anything. How Perry had got them to agree to do this was anyone’s guess. ‘Who you callin’ fat?’ rumbled Brick.
‘I din’t say you’re fat. I said you’re thick, you pig-headed moron,’ said Brack.
‘So now you callin’ me a pig? I dare ya to say that to my face, skunk-breath.’
‘At least my breath smells better than your butt!’
The nearby baboons were taking notice already – they loved a good brawl. Pink-Butt barked loudly and the others came round to his side of the watering hole. Some of the younger baboons were even taking bets on who was going to win this time. No one besides Elephant and Perry noticed the five sleek shapes slipping into the water on the far side and the crocodiles quietly submerging as they were freed.
Brick and Brack had locked horns a few times and now stepped back, pawing the ground, making ready to charge. The baboons were jumping up and down by now, loudly barking, egging the twins on. The buffaloes charged…and stopped dead centimetres apart. They slowly turned and faced the baboons.
Now, baboons have an innate sense for danger. It’s to be expected that you’d develop that sense if you spent every waking moment of each day ticking people off. When Brick and Brack did not collide with the spectacular crack of solid bone the apes were expecting, they started looking around them and noticed that the other animals had circled around behind them, right to the water’s edge. Their only option was to swim for it. They were halfway into the water when the croc-squad rose out of the water, menacing grins on their faces. As if that wasn’t enough, each one had an otter perched on his head, covered in algae. ‘I told them to do that, boss,’ said a voice by Elephant’s knee. He really had to talk to Otto of the dangers inherent in surprising an elephant, thought Elephant.
There was only one place for the baboons to go: the other buffaloes and wildebeest had formed a narrow corridor leading up the rise. The baboons looked at the crocodiles coming ever closer and looked at their leader. He swore loudly and started running the gauntlet, the rest of the troop in tow. The wildebeest and buffaloes swung their horns in the path of the baboons, tripping them up and knocking them over. Elephant was standing at the exit and gave each one a slap on the behind with his trunk as they passed him. The rest of the animals roared with laughter at the humiliation.
Just before he disappeared over the rise Pink-Butt turned around and threw Elephant a foul look. Elephant chuckled and saluted him with his trunk. The animals cheered and turned to the watering hole. For once Brick and Brack were not arguing, but they gloried in all the attention they were getting from the others, especially the admiration on the young meerkats’ faces. The croc-squad had retired into the reeds, but that day no one was afraid of being eaten.
‘Great job, gang,’ said Elephant as he, Perry and Otto watched everything return to normal around the watering hole.