Animal Dilemmas – Cheetah Hyena
After defeating and chasing away the Crocodile, the hyenas were ecstatic. They spend two days camping around the Zebra’s corpse until they licked away every last drop of dried blood from its bones. On the third day they were not very hungry and had no prospects. There was no smells or any sign in the air of potential scavenging sights.
They started back vaguely in the direction of their cave. The hyenas were not in a rush, they joked about along the way and pretended to run after some grazing gazelles and gnus. Their screams could be heard afar and they traveled in a loose pack not making an attempt to be discreet.
They did a very wide detour around the lions’ nest. The nest was the one thing they avoided strictly. Because the lions seemed to like to kill them just for fun, they never ate their meat. Ascending a small hill with a few scattered leafless trees they all halted nervously at the sight of a Cheetah standing on is head in the dirt. None of its legs were touching the ground. The slender wild cat was perfectly still and did not pay attention to them.
The hyenas being in no hurry, approached with moderate caution. They circled the Cheetah and sniffed the air closer and closer to it. The Cheetah was still and its eyes were closed. The hyenas didn’t dare touch it yet instead they looked at each other in question. But none of them showed signs if understanding what was in front of them.
The Hyena that poked the Crocodile’s eye out lead the curious exploration. Its belly was full with zebra meat and its mind was high from the recent success. The Hyena drew closer and closer the the perfectly still Cheetah. It raised its right from paw and poked the Cheetah’s upside down front left paw. The Cheetah didn’t react but the pack of hyenas hissed in amusement.
The lead Hyena poked the Cheetah’s paw one more time and again nothin happened. The hyenas were ecstatic with hissing laughter. The Cheetah’s stillness inspired further aggression on their part. They shrunk the circle around the Cheetah and were contemplating their luck of a second meal so soon after the zebra.
They rolled in the dirt in playful fights over who would have the first bite. Who would knock the Cheetah to the ground and be remembered as fearless. The lead Hyena hissing everyone back indicating it had been decided. It truly believed it was destined to kill the Cheetah. Its ego bordered on immortality.
The hyenas settled down. The lead Hyena approached with steady foot and zero caution. It lowered its head, stretched its mouth open and went for the Cheetah’s neck.
When its teeth touched the first hairs and just before they sank into the skin, the Cheetah span on its head, slapped the Hyena through the mouth with one leg and knocks it down on the ground with the other. Then it stopped spinning and all went quiet again.
The Hyena was furious with embarrassment and jumped back on its feet. It hissed in assault and launched towards the tranquil Cheetah. The Cheetah span with the motion of the attack and threw the angry animal on the other side keeping its head stand.
The Hyena snapped back and urged the pack to attack as one. All hyenas launched forward with teeth out. They aimed for the Cheetah’s neck but were similarly thrown around as the Cheetah span on its head and effortlessly avoided their assaults.
A cloud of dust rose as the hyenas landed on the ground around the Cheetah, head first. Some of them re-assaulted other pulled back. The lead Hyena was the most aggressive and kept going for the neck until the Cheetah didn’t kick it about but pinned it to the ground and tore its heart out with a swift movement.
The dead Hyena bled out and the others dispersed in panic. The cloud of dust settled and the Cheetah was again alone standing perfectly still on its head.
As twilight approached the Cheetah jumped on its feet and gracefully walked away.
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photograph by Andy Brunner