The Predator, the Prey, and the Scavengers
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Our trip to Kenya provided the ultimate in cultural enrichment which not only inspired us to learn from the Maasai tribesmen of their unique way of living but also led to some shared adventure in the wilderness, as we strolled the savannah scanning for cheetahs, lions, giraffes, elephants, and leopards. This was the low season after all, so we were able to enjoy game viewing in a crowd-free environment, enjoying the Mara for ourselves for the most part. We also went on walking safaris with the Maasai warriors. It was during one of those trips that we spotted this fresh kill, an impala hunted by a leopard and dragged all the way to the top of a tree. There was a strong stench of fresh blood everywhere in the air and swarms of flies buzzing around, at times attempting to settle on our bodies. The kill was from early morning, the two Maasai warriors who accompanied me informed, pointing out the leopard’s fresh paw prints on the soft mud below. Pieces of the impala’s body parts lay strewn beneath the tree. We found a sneaky jackal eyeing the prey’s remnants, probably hoping to score a quick meal while the territory was still unfortified, but it fled the moment it spotted us. Scores of vultures soared high in the sky, a sight I treasured for quite some time, although somewhat harrowing were the scraps of the dead animal – lungs, liver, and intestine – all hanging between the tree branches.
Early next morning, the Maasai warriors brought news that those disconcerting last residues, including every fragment of the impala bone, had been wiped clean by the species with the strongest mammalian jaws on the planet: the hyenas. I couldn’t help but ponder how the story that runs deepest through the evolutionary history of all species big and small happens to be the one that completes the great circle of life.