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This bizarre and striking member of the cattle family originated, appropriately enough, in lands that are now part of the tiny East African nation of Djibouti. Situated embracing a western spur of the Gulf of Aden known as the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti is a poor and underdeveloped Third World country of predominately Muslim city-dwellers and pastoralists. Djiboutis share a hot and rocky desert land lying within 10 degrees of the Equator, with few resources, and little or no industry. In this still-backward land, Butt Ox are revered.
As the Republic of Djibouti has less than 1% of its total land area forested, and not much more grassed, Butt Ox have remained confined primarily to The Day Forest National Park, atop green highlands overlooking both the Gulf and Lake Ghoubet below. [Paleontologists from Harvard’s famed School of All Sorts of Old Stuff (HSOASOOS) have uncovered numerous intact Butt Ox fossils dating back thousands of years within the Park’s boundaries, in the deep cleft between the paired Gluteus Mountains, just a few hours from the tiny town of Taint.]
Though most other species of ox have long been employed by man to pull heavy loads and perform strenuous farm tasks, the Butt Ox has so far proven quite resistant to such domestication. For one thing, the creature is quite shy at exposing itself in the open, preferring to hide among the forest understory rather than be caught dragging a wagon or plow in the wide open. Fittingly, the Butt Ox is one of the few creatures besides man that can blush. For another, if Butt Ox are ever yoked into teams, they seem to always head to the rear, confounding the teamster’s aim and the plower’s line. However, should the diligent farmer or tradesman eventually encourage Butt Ox to serve as draft animals, he would be truly amazed at just how much junk in a trunk they can haul.
Just like its quadruped cousin, the Ass, the Butt Ox has throughout history been, . . . well, the butt of jokes. Such ridicule (particularly the perpetual adolescent sniggering of young Djibouti boys) has, over time, only heightened the Butt Ox’s natural shyness.
Despite its shyness, though, one would be wise to be wary around any Butt Ox. Those horns are intimidating! Not only do Butt Ox shed lots of curly hair, they can be prone to flatulence, producing both abhorrent noises and noxious vapors. And pity the grieving family of a poor misguided foreign exchange student from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, working as a trail guide at Day Forest National Park two years ago! The unfortunate binge-drinking frat boy thought it might be a hoot to ignite his lighter at the backside of a grazing Butt Ox one dry Djibouti evening.
But it was not a ‘hoot’, it was more of a ‘BOOM!’ that resonated around the Gulf that night. In addition to torching several hillside hectares of the Park, the resulting blast sent remnants of the late goofing doofus to the Gulf, the capital city of Djibouti opposite, and even the far reaches of Eritrea, well over 50 miles to the north!
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