Animal Dilemmas – Panda Bearded Vulture

leaving home short stories

Short Story


The Vulture ate but was growing rejected with the old doctrines. It was tired of being told what to think, what to eat, what to do. Why its parents and grandparents gave it life and invested so much into raising it, if they were to control every aspect of its life. And then it occurred to it, it made perfect sense. They want it to be subdued under their rules and traditions so it can hunt for them when they grow old. But what if the vulture wanted a different life. Was it such a sin to abandon its kin and look for life elsewhere.

Yes, it was, the Vulture’s grandfather had told it once. Look at the giants, they build temples and stay here for ever doing the same things over and over again. The sky burials are just a part of their tradition that we know because it feeds us. But they chant all day and recite the same prayers. You can hear for yourself if you take a rest on the temple roof. We have to do the same, its grandfather insisted. With no traditions and doctrines to keep us together the wolves will take us.

The wolves will take us, thought the Vulture cracking a goose leg bone with its bill and sucking out the marrow. It hated wolves they were the worst beast even when they were young. A new born wolf had found their nest when the Vulture was a baby and ate its two sisters. Why did its kin stayed in this wicked lands depending on the grace of sky burials. Why not fly away into lush low lands.

The Vulture took a rest on the temple roof and listened to the monotonous chanting of the monks. After its stomach settled, it took a flight. It flew east in the mountain passages but the winds were against it. The next day it tried again but the winds slowed its progress. Every passage it tried made it loose feathers against cold north winds. May be that was why its kin never left, it thought, it was impossible. Nature had trapped them on the plateau and they had to be at thankful that the sky burials, the migrating geese and the renders fed them well enlightened to survive.

The Vulture was without all its feathers and nearly concluded that staying was the only option when the wind changed. The winds on the plateau changed twice a year for no longer that a few hours or a day at best. The Vulture rode the dry mountain air north east down pass the tree line into the forests.

For a first time the bird saw trees, its home was above the tree line and only supported grass and low bushes. Life was rife in the forests full of cries and noises of animals making their way through the vegetation. By the temple the only sounds were from the wind and chanting. The Vulture flew above the trees and leisurely searched for bone to eat.

A tribe of moneys was sleeping in the tree tops. The Vulture dove and picked one up from the upper branches of the trees. The monkey woke but too late to save itself. The Vulture carried it up and blood fell down on its sleeping family. The bird went up as much as it could and searched for a stone to drop it and break its bones.

The panda family was having lunch in a forest clearing. The mother panda and her cub were taking a break from bamboo and were eating soft fruits that were more nutritious and easier on their stomachs. The father Panda was splitting bamboo branches lying on its back with its legs spread wide.

‘You should cut down on the bamboo it’s not good for you,’ the mother said.

‘Pandas have been eating bamboo since the beginning of time. Why would I change that?’

‘Recent findings stare that fruit and grass are better for us.’

‘Better how, do you want to live for a hundred years?’

‘I have always been eating bamboo and I don’t see a reason to change it. An old panda once told me eat whatever you like to eat. I like to eat bamboo.’

‘But you have so many problems with your stomach!’

‘I am getting old, it’s normal to have health problems when the years pile up.’

‘Why are you stubborn?’

‘That is exactly why I prefer living alone in the forest. No one tells me what to do.’

‘I am sure you will be gone soon.’

‘I will, raising the cubs is your business.’

‘And what is your business, eating and sleeping!’

‘You wanted a cub. I gave you cub. You wanted me to stay for the first month I stayed. No fathers stay you know that. What more do you want!?’

‘I just want you to eat better. But we always reach this bitter point.’

‘So don’t start!’

‘You will be gone soon and I will have no one to argue with.’

‘And I will be able to eat bamboo in peace.’

‘If that’s what you want.’

Before the Panda could respond a monkey landed on its head and put it to sleep. The Vulture was not far behind and when it realized the white and black mass was not a stone it attacked it violently with its bill. The Panda didn’t stir as the Vulture poked at its eyes. The mother panda sprung to its feet and chased the bird away nearly tearing its wings off. The Vulture fled in fright of this unseen beast. It made a few circles of the clearing and resolved to going back to fetch a new monkey.

The mother panda tried to wake up the male to no avail. Its eyes were bleeding and it didn’t stir. The mother collected the cub and walked into the forest.

The Panda woke a few hours later to an eternal darkness alone in the woods.


Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Animal Dilemmas – Tuesday, February 16th.

previous chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Bearded Vulture Bar- Headed Goose

all chapters: Animal Dilemmas

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photograph by Alex Keda

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