Tuesday, May 2

The Pecking Order

Do you ever watch that National Geographic Channel? I think it's the greatest Channel ever conceived by man. My only quirk about the channel is they don't have enough material about wolves. The Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel seem to have more about them. The Animal planet and famed wildlife research biologist who has studied large carnivores, especially wolves and their prey filmed "The Arctic Wolf: Ten years with the pack" perhaps the greatest wolf documentary ever filmed. David Mech and his devoted crew amassed 10 years of film by dutifully returning every summer in the Arctic Mountains (... and oh it's still near or below zero degrees in the summer). Why do that you might ask if they can film wolves in, say, Yellowstone or somewhere in the North West? Well wolves everywhere else in the world are quite different from the Arctic ones. For one, Arctic wolves are completely white (camouflage purposes i'm sure...) while wolves around the world are mostly black, grey or red. Two, and to state the obvious, their place of inhabitant are compleltely different, differing also in prey. The wolves in Yellowstone for instance, even though they are North Americas only predator that can take down large preys such as moose and bison, primarily hunt smaller animals. The Arctic wolves on the other hand have no choice but to hunt down a very large and strong prey, the Musk Oxen which is almost 20 times their size. And three, it's far easier to film Arctic wolves by virtue that they are not familiar with humans, therefore are not afraid, won't scurry away with the sight of a human but are rather curious of them actually, making them easier to film. Well save for the frigid conditions.

What they have in abundance are Big Cats, it's like their obsession. Big Cats are to National Geographic what crocodiles are to Steve Irwin, the crazy Australian crocodile hunter. I mean he probably thinks of crocs during sexual intercourse lol. They have covered every possible characteristic a Lion Pride might have. From the Lions of Serengeti to the Bengal Tigers and Puma's of India (called Mountain Lions in North America and Jaguars elsewhere) to the beautiful very reclusive and evasive snow Leopards of the Himalayans, i mean they've got 'em all... Of course i've got my favorites.

1.) The Hyaena Killer, hyaenas you may or may not know are the Lions eternal nemesis and rival. Hyaenas, even with their social hierarchical order that rivals that of the wolves (... wolves are known to have the most orderly social order) and their keen ability to kill they quarries, are well known as opportunistic cowardly scavengers. Safety in numbers is their strategy. Because of their sheer size in numbers they are able to snatch-away kills from even the largest of prides. However on this one documentary, the Male Lion of the pride had no such tolerance for such a cowardly act. He was known as the Hyaena Killer for his ability to kill any Hyaena who got too close while his pride was feeding on a kill. National Geographic actually caught this extraordinary shot of the Big male Lion's deadly blow to the to a Hyaenas esophagus killing it instantly sending all the other Hyaenas scurrying away in fear.

2.) The Lions specializing in taking down large bull elephants. Huh bull elephants? Yes if you thought only infant elephants fall prey to these merciless Lions, you are wrong. Lions in Africa have evolved and found ways to kill the only animal capable of forcing a slumbering Male Lion to scamper out of the way of a lumbering bull elephant. Bull elephants are the largest of its kind in Africa (almost as big as the Asian elephants) and are generally left alone by the Lions. But after a few too many rude-awakening incidents, the Lions, as if to remind those who dared that they're still atop the pecking order, took down the biggest bull they could find in the middle of the night, leaving plenty of meat for the scavengers to gorge on after sating the entire pride... and repeating the process the next evening.

3.) What else? "The Arctic wolf: Ten years with the pack" dvd. This one is truly spectacular. Living in the most harsh place on Earth these wolves have to travel over 100 miles sometimes without even the benefit of a surefire hunt. At least those damn penguins have a field day in the ocean after marching 70 miles, right? Transversing 100 miles and seeking out the Musk Oxens, the wolves then play an elaborate and deadly game of chase that could last up to 7 hours. Oxens, like the Water Buffalos in Africa, are a gregarious specie and because of their size (larger than the Buffalo or an Elk, plus they have that sharp tusk) the Arctic wolves, even at full pack aren't capable of taking down the large animal until one Oxen is isolated from the pack, hence the song and dance. The attack is not chaotic like that of the crocodiles but well coordinated and expertly executed like that of the Orcas. Below -- a Musk Oxen Arctic Wolf face off--

National Geographic has human shows too, but who cares to watch those? Humans are highly evolved beings, evil and devious. Animals are instinctive and primal. Leopards still hoist their kills unto trees, Cheetahs still outrun any animal on the plains to the dismay of the fast and agile Impala, Crocs still roam the Nile, Condors still soar above the Andes (and California), wildebeest still migrate by the thousands while predators await to join in the fray, Vampire Bats still dominate the night skies of the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the Americas, Komodo Dragons still atop of the food chain in the Islands of Indonesia, Cranes will still flock to the south in the winter and Africas watering-holes while it nourishes life in the wild, the brooding predators that surround it will still snatch life invariably... yes so primal and yet much more fun to watch.


Post a Comment

<< Home