Life’s WILD GAME
Petey’s little fingers dug into my arm as we ducked for cover.
The seven tawny forms floating like bronzed ghosts slid like daggers through the waist high grasses in front of us and erupted with the roar of a class 5 hurricane onto their transfixed prey. A black whirling dervish with double-edged scythes moved into action to send the felines flying but not for long. The grandmasters of death moved with chess-like precision to dart in and out strategically breaking down the defenses of the lone survivor.
The raging monster struggling for footing was five foot high and ten foot long. He weighed almost 1800 pounds. Sixty-four cookie cutter models just like him clumped together less than half a mile away. An arrogant bachelor, thirsty from the long migration through the Serengeti plains, he had lost his focus in his pause at a drying streambed.
The circling shadows above him alerted him to danger but he had grown confident in his sparring matches with the other bulls. It was only his flaring nostrils that betrayed the instinctive fear.
And now the talons and 3 inch fangs of death were shredding his hide, immobilizing his movement by holding his tail, throwing off his balance as four hundred pounds of momentum leaped on and off his back with the precision of a drill team. Never within reach of his curved horns. Using his desperate movements against him.
And then the goliath was down. Two yellow missiles darted in and clamped themselves onto the hulk. One closed its powerful jaws over the mouth and nose of the Cape Buffalo. Another sunk its teeth into the jugular. The three younger females drove for the exposed belly and the black tufts of their tails waving in pleasure marked their success.
Petey rose to his feet to get a better glimpse through the grasses but I pulled him down to his knees again. “Is he dead?” he whispered.
A desperate bawling answered Petey’s question as a belated cry for help went unheeded by the herd. The lookouts began to turn away and the young calves huddled in the middle of the mass as their march continued in a cloud of red dust. Petey huddled in closer to me as the bawls began to fade.
Another whisper. “Are we allowed to ask Jesus to help the buffalo?”
“Sometimes Jesus has to feed even the lions.”
Petey focused again on the writhing bodies before us.
Suddenly, the black giant shook its powerful head and dislodged the lioness attempting to suffocate it. A powerful kick sent another lioness flying. And then the giant was up flailing its horns in all directions.
The lions backed off and sat as if bored with the whole adventure. The beast was fatally wounded. They would bide their time.
The buffalo began to bawl again as it trotted in the direction of the retreating herd. The lions fell into step. Three hungry males lay sprawled in the sun just over the horizon waiting for supper. There was no need to drag dinner home if the dinner was running in the right direction.
Petey waited patiently as the scene before us focused in on the hunters intent on their prey. The three younger ones darted off to the right and circled in front of the buffalo several hundred feet short of the protective herd. A few of the large horned bulls standing in front of the mass of midnight bodies began to move toward their wounded comrade.
The lions hesitated no longer. They darted in to block the path forward, attacked once again from the back and sides and downed the weary buffalo in a show of strength. This time the struggle was short-lived and the damage was extensive and ruthless.
By the time a rescue attempt was made the deed was done and the lionesses moved off to await the disappearance of the herd and the arrival of the maned ones. Several roars announced the dinner call.
My nephew Petey slid his eyes away from the giant LCD monitor and the footage I had taken of my safari in Kenya. He was at peace with the outcome. He held out the video game controller to me. “It doesn't look like a wild game. What happens now? Does the buffalo get another life or do the lions get to move up a level?”
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