Animal Dilemmas – Hyena Crocodile
The Crocodile killed one of the Zebras and ate like it has never before in its life. The fresh meat tasted better than anything aided by the feeling of victory over its fears and doubts. The chronic pain in its ribs and lame foot were dulled by this happy moment. The Crocodile experienced the happiest few hours in its life. Even though it now believed in itself and that there was no limit to what it could achieve, the river would prove it wrong.
Like a true victor the Crocodile filled its belly with the spoils of the battle and fell asleep over the corpse of the Zebra. The sun shone all day over it’s body and the blood attracted flies at first and soon other beasts. But seeing the Crocodile over the Zebra stirred even the bravest away. It was impossible to tell if the content animal was sleeping or not.
A young lion, an old cheetah, and a family of rodents all turned around. A hungry stray rat crawled in the dust and stole away a piece of meat. A few pray birds came and went poking away a few bits of the dead animal and flying off. The Crocodile woke in the late afternoon and ate itself to sleep again.
As evening came and in a nearby cave a band of Hyenas woke up hungry. They fought over the few bones at the mouth of the cave from a corpse scavenged the day before. They licked the bones dry until the scent of freshly rotting meat reached them. They sniffed the air for some time to reassure themselves of the direction it came from and started out.
The pack of Hyenas was followed by a light cloud of insects that lived off the bloody bones of scavenged corpses. The Hyenas were at home in the dark. They made a large arc around the lion nest to avoid any confrontations. They often stole the lion’s leftovers but preferred not to, for it was hard work to steal from the lions.
The Hyenas were an angry lot, always picking on each other. There were never happy, always hungry and discontent with their strides for leftovers. Evolution has given them a undesirable niche in the food chain. Nature had taken the lazy dogs, the ones that didn’t like to hunt and over thousands of years of eating rotting leftovers and rhino feces had made the Hyenas look the part.
The sneezing sounds they made often only added to that image of scruffiness, mean envy and scavenging short sharp teeth. Scavenging was not easy often they were hurt or even killed. But it was all they knew and they chose to sleep all day instead of to look for an alternative.
They always felt impoverished compared to all other beasts, lion and cheetahs alike.
The Hyenas walked lazily in the direction of the sleeping Crocodile. The dead zebra smell was only getting stronger and attracting the hungriest of creatures. The ones ready to risk their lives just to get a meal. The Hyenas crossed paths with a storm of giant field rats almost half their size. The rats had been starved by a recent flood and were ruthless and desperate.
The Hyenas ate rats often. The rodents were one of the few healthy animals they attempted to hunt. Two Hyenas leaped forward into the river of rats crossing in front of them. The rats hissed and jumped as aggressive as lions. The Hyenas singled one out and jumped on it. The rat stumbled and rolled back. The Hyenas bit it on each side and pulled. Two more Hyenas joined for the snack and a few rats stole a piece each.
Then one of the younger Hyenas munching in the rat’s tale was pulled away by two rats biting on its back legs. Two more rats jumped on its back and other two bit its belly. The rats were hungry and the Hyena was overrun by several of them and fell to the ground.
The other Hyenas walked away not attempting a rescue. The Hyena exploded with a burst of angry energy and bushes the rats off. Jumped to its feet and caught up with the pack. It was angry that its kind were indifferent to each other’s sufferings. It was angry that it was bleeding from rat bites. It was angry that there was no food.
The pack of Hyenas reached the river bank where the Crocodile was still sleeping on top of the rotting zebra. The Hyena that was overrun by the rats approached without caution or concern. It bit on the meat and stared at the one-eyed Crocodile. The rest of the pack were less forthcoming. They inched ahead and pulled at the zebra’s spilled guts.
The pulling and play finally woke the crocodile and all animals stepped back away from its sharp teeth. The angry predator snapped its jaw a few times and the Hyenas stepped even further back.
The Hyena that survived the rats was the first to step forward again. The Crocodile stared at it with tired eye and heavy stomach. The others surrounded and started pulling at he zebra’s gut again. The Crocodile leaped from side to side trying to scare them away but there were too many and only got it tired.
The Rat Hyena always stayed close. And when the Crocodile landed from a session of leaping it jumped ahead and bit off its eye. The Crocodile leaped back and rolled around in the shallow river completely blind.
The Hyenas ate off the zebra’s corpse all night.
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