The story of the dead cow

Cows in Gambia, there’s no waste in nature!

I apologise in advance if my story offends anyone but this is The Gambia!

People say in Africa when an animal dies all will be eaten.
So let’s see.
I’m writing this basically because a cow wandered into my garden by mistake, it was sick and had come through the fence and laid down. I spoke to the farmer that owned the calf over the fence and he asked if he could leave it there for a few days to recover because he thought it had eaten something that didn’t agree with it. I said yes no problem thinking all would be fine, but it certainly wasn’t.

Dead cow Gambia
Day 1 and already a million flies

The next day I asked my gardener “How is the cow”, and after a brief inspection, he returned telling me it had gone.
On the third morning, there seemed more flies than usual and a bad odour in the air at the front of the house. It was then that my friend called round for coffee and as he approached noticed many vultures on my roof. He walked into my back garden and found the dead calf, he recommended we lift it into a wheelbarrow and take it to the fence where the farmer can collect it and find somewhere to bury it! 

Not so easy

By now it was covered in golden blue bottle-type flies, and as we tried to lift it the flies took off. The smell was horrendous and the calf’s stomach started to tear open, this caused me to throw up on my friend’s arm who replied by vomiting down my leg. Soon we were running whilst heaving whilst knocking thousands of flies off ourselves.
We decided to leave it there and let nature take its course.

I returned that evening to photograph the remains.
It was now day four and the smell was terrible and travelling much further, the flies were also spreading further out. My neighbour complained and asked if we could bury it. NO CHANCE!

Can we bury it?

I told her nobody could stand next to it for long enough to dig the hole.
That evening, I saw that the vultures had eaten its tongue, upper lip and lower jaw leaving a soup-like liquid dripping from its mouth and nose which the vultures seemed to quite like! 

By the fifth morning, more than fifty vultures had gathered and approximately three million flies. I decided this was a good day for shopping, so I went early, stopping at a bar afterwards and dragging my trip out until dark!

By now my doors and windows had been closed for two days. Thinking back I hadn’t seen Sue, my neighbour, for a few days either.
As I woke on day six I braved the flies and sat in the front with my coffee, having built up the courage my friend returned so after coffee he went to inspect what was left” it’s gone mate” he yelled. I couldn’t believe it, a whole calf to a few bones in just 5 days!

Decomposition rates in Gambia
Cows Gambia

The bones the birds couldn’t deal with the dog fetched bringing the rancid smell to my feet. I want to dedicate this blog to my neighbour Sue.
I’m sorry Sue!

Written by Ged Brown

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