The Death of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Every time we see a mongoose I think “There goes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.” We don’t have these cute little killers, and my own exposure was the many readings Mom made of Rudyard Kipling’s “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” story. That tough little guy was the protector of the family from the neighborhood killer cobras.

travel Africa mongoose
Hello there, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. Kill any cobras today, you wily little mongoose?

Now let’s put aside just how awful that story is if retold from the cobras point of view. Rikki did, after all, basically wipe out their entire family, and the cobras were on the land before the humans. Actually, would somebody please just rewrite that story already? Use Kipling’s repetition and voice, but create it Gregory Maguire style, where the reader can empathize with the poor cobras against the mean humans and vicious mongoose. Hahaha. Yes.

Anyway, I love mongoose (is the plural also mongoose? or mongooses? mongeese? mongi?) and every time we see one here in our Africa travels, I think to myself “There goes Rikki-Tikki again!”  It never mattered to me whether I was seeing a banded mongoose, slender mongoose or dwarf mongoose. They were all “Rikki.”

mongoose Africa travel
Mongooses are often too quick for my photography fingers. Look at all four of his little feet flying off the dirt!

Rikki is hard to photograph, unless you happen to be sitting for awhile in one spot. Because when you come across a group of Rikkis while you’re driving, they scatter far and fast.On our recent Kruger trip, we startled an eagle into a tree branch and realized he had just killed a little mongoose and was taking him away to eat. I felt bad for the little guy, but also bad that we were interrupting the eagle’s lunch, so we took a quick snap and were careful not to run him over as we passed by. Bon Apetit, Mister Eagle. {Darn it, I’m singing Circle of Life again!}

Africa eagle travel
Can you tell me the type of eagle whose dinner we interrupted?

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is also the name of a song by a band named Fair to Midland. I just gave it a listen for the first time, and in the immortal words of George Takei, “Oh my…” Hahaha. This is a crazy, mixed-genre metal/folk(ish) song (audio below) and I love it. I don’t recommend it for traditional music lovers. I thought it a fitting tribute to the dead Rikki about to be eaten by the eagle.

dead mongoose travel Africa
Eagle 1, Mongoose 0

RIP Rikki-Tikki Tavi.

Love, Marla

P.S. For the record, the plural of mongoose is either “mongooses”, “mongeese”, or “Rikki-Tikkis”. 😉

P.P.S Any amateur orno’s out there want to take a guess at the type of eagle this is?


13 thoughts on “The Death of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

  1. Guessing Whalberg’s eagle or maybe Steppe eagle (pic is kinda dark) 1st guess Whalberg’s….reminds me a lot of american golden eagle.

    1. I’m actually still trying to figure it out. I’ve been looking in my bird book but the photos aren’t that great, and of course my own photo is dark because it was zoomed far up into the tree so the light doesn’t get in enough. I lightened it up in Photoshop but that’s as good as I could get it.
      Beautiful though, isn’t it? I have never seen so many varieties of Eagles as I have in the Kruger. The one I haven’t seen (that I know of) is the Bateleur. I am thinking it’s a Tawny Eagle but not positive.

      Do you know what is really funny is that I couldn’t get Little Dog Dingo out of my mind when writing this post. Why in the world would my brain cross “Run little dingo, little dog dingo” with “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?”

      Maybe the two of them need to come together for a short story. Of course knowing me it would be dark and horrific and they would both die in the end. {sigh} Nothing cute and furry survives my short stories.

      1. Hahaha…that is funny, but isn’t “My Little Dog Dingo” an Australian story? I don’t know, I just always assumed it was. 😉

        1. I’m sure it is because I think dingos are only in Australia.
          Maybe it’s just because it’s Kipling’s voice. And I just saw that it wasn’t even titled “Yellow Dog Dingo” but was part of the “Sing Song of Old Man Kangaroo” from Just So Stories.
          Figures. Man I think my entire life is six degrees of Rudyard Kipling.
          Holy shit. Maybe THAT should be the title of the memoir.

          1. Hahaha…yea,” Kipling: re-viewed, skewed, and renewed!”

      2. You probably right on Tawny eagle. I can’t see any of the yellow around the beak or legs in the pic, but you had a first eye view!

  2. Wow! Great Rikki sound track. Rikki-Tikkis have a tough job. They look like stuffed animal lullabies . . . and then they ROCK!

    1. I had never heard of that group until researching this. I’ll be listening to them more now. Yes, exactly on the Rikki-Tikkis. <3

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