Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part I

Ten animal crossing signs from around the world — Just a Little Further

While driving through Addo, Elephant Park, we came across the signs like these and being the curious sort that I am..I dug into finding out more about these small creatures and was completely dumbfounded at how incredibly interesting a beetle that rolled poo for a livelihood could be…what follows is the story of just one…Umulo

An ancient Greek fable…
The storyteller, Aesop (believed to have lived in ancient Greece around 600 BCE) tells the story of “The Dung Beetle and the Eagle”. Despite the appeals of the beetle, the eagle killed a hare. To take revenge on the eagle, the beetle destroyed the eagle’s eggs. In despair, the eagle visited Olympus and asked Zeus to look after its latest eggs by placing them in Zeus’s lap. When the beetle realised what the eagle has done, he stuffed himself with dung and flew into the face of Zeus. This startled Zeus and in the process he jumped to his feet and dropped the eggs. After an explanation from the beetle, and realising that the eagle had ignored the pleas of the beetle, Zeus instructed the eagle and the beetle to stay away from each other. To ensure that the beetle would now leave the eagle’s eggs alone, Zeus changed the breeding season of the eagle to a period when beetles are not above ground.

Khepri (Scarabaeus Sacer)

Umbulo woke to a warm and sunny day…he had been extremely lethargic during the whole of winter…time to rise and shine… work to do…shuffling poo around…he absolutely loved his job of environmental specialist…cleaning up the environment, reseeding, providing vital nutrients for the soil, aerating and fertilizing…you have to be very passionate about what you do to work, eat, sleep and drink poo…

Opening each of his four eyes stretching each of his six legs…yep, everything was in working order…he stared at the portraits of his family that he had deliberately arranged on the wall opposite his bed…it was an inspiring reminder of his illustriousness heritage and length of his family’s lineage…65 million years…

The revered Scarab Beetle…his great…great…great (many great’s) ancestor was worshipped for thousands of years…considered a solar deity…and over 600 family lines were known throughout the world…on every continent, except for Antarctica…which for all practicality is not known for it’s warmth…and large amounts of poo…now how’s that for having something to be proud of…

Umbolo was a very unique poo roller…the three members of his family were different than he was…he was a Qenq the roller (Telecoprids)…but there was Iton the Tunneler (Endocoprids), Umhlai the Dweller (Paracoprids) and the Black Sheep of the Family, Ukuba the Stealer (Kleptocoprids). Ukuba never did any work of his own, he always stole other beetles work… so the family never spoke of him much and if they did it was only in hushed whispers…

Rolling out of bed to the floor…immediately to start his callanetics…staying the strongest animal on the planet was not an easy feat…pulling and pushing over 1,000 times his body weight every working day required a great deal of consistent workouts…something no human could pull off…lol…he grinned to himself at the image of any human pulling 6 double decker buses filled with people…

Umbolo’s direct family line was endemic to South Aftica…and his family was of the rarest Dung Beetle kind and now most of his family was found only here in the Park…The Addo Dung Beetle or their fancier name Circellium bacchus…he was so extra special that even the human’s took unusual precautions that he was protected…he was immortalized and given the right of way at all times..he rubbed his beautiful strong body one more time in pride before heading out…

He had to walk…not fly like some of his cousins…remembering all his family that still had wings…like magical capes that allowed them to get to any steaming pile of poo in a hurry…and his own long, dry hot walk seemed unfair……but definitely worth it…his family had adapted themselves with it was the only way to survive in the hot arid desert environment that he had been regulated to…it was always such a long walk for elephant takeaway…His wing case now had evolved to be a CO2 cylinder..which helped him to breathe less and not waste his body water during his daily trek on his job…As opposed to wings, flightless dung beetles have a tightly sealed elytra (wing case), which creates a convective cooling system where heat is drawn away from their body. Thus, they are perfectly suited to hot regions of Africa.

He climbed out of his tunnel…lifted his head…his strong sense of smell alerted him to the fact that his favorite meal was already prepared for him by the majestic elephant chef who lived on site….and maybe…just maybe he’d convince a beautiful female how magnificent he was and start a family…

Here Comes The Bride


Author: Renée E.

Storytelling Photographer and Fine Art Conceptional Artist...Creating magic from the ordinary

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