The sun was hot as its strong rays beat upon the grass in the land of forgotten dreams. Rain visited randomly and with little grace to the African grasslands. Few people wandered into the land of the mighty lions, tigers, antelope, and wild hyenas’. It was a place where strength was the most important virtue a animal could have. Having been born in this forlorn place Maroc had learned many valuable lessons and those lessons had given him the highest position of any animal within hundreds of miles. He was known as the strongest, the wisest, the fastest, and the head of the pecking order in his pride.
Maroc had five females, ten young cubs and three other lions that lived in his pride. They lived together, fought together and hunted for food together. Maroc towered over the females and the cubs. His mane hung like furry fringe from his head used to protect his neck and throat from predators attacks. His legs were strong and he roared loudly to let others know he was king of his territory. His eyes were keen and so was his sense of smell. These were most important when searching for food.
Maroc lay in the sunshine resting. It was simply too hot to do anything. Perhaps later in the day or night he would be on the prowl. He watched the cubs tumble in the grass and paw at each other playfully. The females positioned themselves so that they made a circle around the cubs to protect them. Watchful eyes scanned the barren land for hunters who often came out of the tall grass with spears ready to kill them. No man or animal was safe in this wild land. Only the strong survived. The weak ended up as victims and food.
“Things are just too quiet here today. Something is up!” Maroc roared loudly.
“Perhaps it is a panther in the trees or a cheetah in the area.” Septa answered as his ears stood erectly upon his furry head.
“No! I don’t think any animal near here would think he could beat me in a fight!” Marco replied as he stood to his feet.
Just then out of the bushes came two hunters with sharp spears. They were looking for a kill to feed their families.
“Get the cubs and move into the thick tall grass behind us into safety. The three of us will wait until the exact moment and then we will attack.” He told the female lions.
“Come over here next to me Septa. Tartus you move and try and get behind them. We will attack them from both sides.” Marco directed.
Slowly Tartus crept through the tall grass and made his way behind the two men. He waited for Marco to give the signal to attack.
“They are coming closer Septa. When they get to the tall bush you go to the left and I’ll attack from the right. Watch out for the spears for they are deadly!” Marco purred quietly.
All eyes were locked upon the two men as they proceeded into Marco’s path. Marco let out a fierce roar to let the men know he was angry. He gave the signal to the other two lions and they all lunged upon the two men. The fight was a bloody one but Marco emerged victorious. One man would be their dinner and the other man was being stalked by Septa. It wouldn’t be long until he would return with the other man’s body. Marco knew one man stood no chance against Septa’s huge sharp claws.
Screams could be heard for a few seconds and then all was quiet. It wasn’t long until Septa returned dragging his prey. It was a good hunt for the lions and a fatal hunt for the two men.
“Everyone wait until the males have eaten, then the females will eat. After they have finished the cubs can have what is left.” He commanded.
So it happened that Marco joined his pride for another night’s sleep in the darkness of the jungle. Two hunters did not return to their camps and two families would suffer loss. So it goes in the African jungles where only the strongest survive.
Question: Who is bottom on the pecking order?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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