In the middle of a thick forest, there was a vast pond.
Deer and lions, elephants and leopards, bears and giraffes, all lived in the forest in harmony, all relying on the pond for water.
All animals went to the pond to quench their thirst once every day. There was an unwritten rule about the pond: that all the natural animosities between the prey and the predators were suspended while at the pond.
Life went on in the forest, until one day.
A herd of deer was drinking at the pond, when a giant crocodile head surfaced from under the water.
The crocodile looked huge and dangerous.
No one had seen the crocodile there before.
Before the deer could decide what to do, the crocodile decried: “This pond belongs to me now. No animals shall come here to drink unless to become my tasty meal.”
The deer stepped back and returned to the forest.
Soon, the news about the giant crocodile spread across the forest.
Terrified animals stayed away from the pond.
With no other source of water, the animals grew very thirsty.
After two days, all the animals gathered to discuss the issue. Deer and lions, elephants and leopards, and bears and giraffes, all came to the meeting.
But there could not be a decision. All animals looked at each other for how to get rid of the crocodile but in vain.
A lean deer stepped forward.
“I am going to the pond for water,” he said.
“Did you not hear there is a giant crocodile there?” asked an elephant.
“Yes, but that pond is ours, our only source of water. I am going to stand up to the crocodile for my right to drink from the pond,” said the deer, as he started walking towards the pond
It was the time for sunset. The deer was terrified inside, but still walked to the pond and began to drink carefully.
Movement in the water alarmed him. The crocodile’s head surfaced.
“How dare you return to this pond?” asked the crocodile.
“I am not going to be scared away by you. I am going to drink from this pond,” said the deer.
Instead of attacking the deer, the crocodile gave a warning to the deer and swam away.
“You can drink this one time, but no more,” said the crocodile.
The other animals were watching.
The deer’s courage and crocodile’s response left them puzzled. Yet, they thought it wise to join the deer.
The next day, the animals followed the deer to the pond one by one.
When the crocodile stuck its head out to look, seeing the gathering of the animals made it nervous. While the animals waited for its response, a lizard popped out of the hollow crocodile head left behind.
The lizard fell on the ground to apologise.
“There never was a crocodile. I found this empty, hollow crocodile hide and used it to terrify you all so that I could have this pond to myself,” said the lizard.
The animals got furious. The lizard was ordered to leave the forest and never to return.