Yowilla

It's hot as usual on the ground in the Australian Outback. The sun has laid its broiling hands on the land, and the land replies by drying up in some precious spots all over. But I'm not too worried about any of it, because my family group and I have already done a good job of adapting to it, and we are strong survivors.

I am the dominant male of a colony of grassland-dwelling yowillas. The females are sitting around, grooming their babies and bonding with them, while others just sit with each other and enjoy each other's company. The little ones seem to be content to just play with each other, pulling pranks and making games that they never seem to get bored of.

I've heard some humans say something about my kind resembling another kind of animal that lives far away from here. I don't know what they're called, but they live in Africa, which is far, far away. Supposedly, we share the same big bodies, the same muscles, and both live on the ground, instead of in the trees like other primates. But our hair, and mine, is tan brown, like the dirt of the Outback landscape, and as the dominant male, I have a mighty goldback on the back of my body. It serves well to inform my colony, and dangerous outsiders, that I am the leader here and am not to be messed with.

I watch as my mate nuzzles our baby on the side of his neck. I can tell that she loves out little one very much, just like me. She and I would sooner die than let him fall into the hands (or the jaws) of any predator, like the fearsome dingoes, or the human hunters.

As I lean against a tree on the grass, a marsupial wanders into our territory. She is a kangaroo, complete with her joey in her pouch. We're cautious around outsiders, but the marsupials are always gentle around us, deserving our respect, so I walk up to the kangaroo and give her joey a nice pat on the head. The joey licks my fingers and playfully chews on their tips. Her mother nods to me with surprising intelligence, and we know that we trust each other, so I let her pass through our colony without interference and gesture for my family group to do the same. After they are gone, I settle down for a meal of fruit and nuts from the nearby trees. Others in the group usually imitate what I do, so most of them, except for the nursing mothers, also get up and start foraging for food. When I came back with enough to last me for a while, the others soon stop searching too, and return to their own places to eat.

It's a nomadic life that we yowillas lead. Soon, it'll be time for all of us to get up and move on.

But before that can happen, I suddenly hear the barking of a dingo. There it is! Not far away from our camp, it's standing there, probably looking for a choice yowilla to snatch and eat. The females and the young ones almost panicked and began to shrink away from the approaching predator. I hoot into the air to signal them to run for it, as well as to warn the few inattentive yowillas in our group of the danger, and they obey immediately.

The dingo, apparently disappointed that its choice feast is escaping from it, barks and howls and soon a bunch more dingoes appear on the scene. Initially, I almost panicked myself, but then I remembered that it was my job as the dominant male to defend my people, and that was what I was going to do.

I ran into the clearing, cutting off the path by which my family had escaped, and hooted and pounded my chest, attempting to scare off the beasts. A few of them backed off a little, but when most of them stayed, I got more aggressive. I stood up to my full height and charged them, still hooting. This was enough to scare away the majority of them, but one, possibly the one that started it all, lingered and bared its teeth at me. It charged.

I sidestepped its attack, and before it could turn around to make another try, I raised an arm and pounded it on the back of the head. Stunned, the dog slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Having triumphed, I called my colony back with another series of hoots. We all shared some heartfelt hugs and kisses of relief and thanks, and soon we were all feeling much better. But that dingo would wake up sooner or later, and we couldn't afford to still be around when it did. So on we went, on another nomadic journey to find another good rest stop.