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September 21, 2018

Even animals get overambitious

A stallion Zebra
A stallion Zebra

The bush life, or what I may call life in the wild has a lot to offer in terms of how we behave at certain times as humans. When on game drive, what we see as the animal behaviour has a bearing on how we behave or ought to behave – since we are also animals but with a larger brain mass which makes us more intelligent.

As I was driving around Masai Mara Game Reserve looking for a cheetah, I got more than I had bargained for. I got a full package. A cheetah mother and two cubs. The adult cheetah was evidently hungry and was scanning the horizon for a possible meal. Sensing action shots coming, I readied my cameras as the clients did the same. She took off in a hurry and it was hard to keep the cameras following her. She increased speed and I lost her through my camera lens. I opted to look at the action without filming. In a few seconds, she stood next to a full grown zebra. The zebra did not even make an effort to escape. He was a big stallion and there was no way the cheetah could bring him down.

The mother cheetah seemed to realise her mistake but now that she was there, she looked determined to bring home a meal for the family. She went behind the zebra and jumped on his back. Before she could be out of the range of the zebra’s legs, she got a kick on her stomach that brought her to the ground. She wanted to bring down the zebra, but she found herself on the ground with an injury on her chest muscles. By now the kids had joined her but stood at a distance. Had she chosen a gazelle, even an adult one, the juveniles would have given her a hand. But this was too large a prey to mess with. They were not going to risk it and maybe they were wondering what had gone wrong with their mother to have tried something that was obviously impossible to accomplish. Now she was wounded and that was bad for them all.

How many times do we go out and try something that is unrealistic just like the mother cheetah did? We are told to dream big if we want to live big. Some of us go to school, study hard in order to succeed in life. Once the degree is in the pocket, we hit the road in search of work. We have been dreaming big, and we want our dreams to come to reality. We are in a hurry to realise our dreams and that sends us to financial institutions to get loans to own a big car. Before we are able to settle the first loan, the lure to live big drives us to the next institution and we top up our first loan, and add more for a house mortgage. Before we know it, we are knee-deep in debt and are being treated for stress-related maladies. Sometimes it may not be for the sole reason of living big that we get ourselves in trouble by trying to actualise a dream too big to be a reality. Sometimes it is a question of satisfying a bloated ego.

A story in a book named Moby Dick illustrates a clear example of how we can get ourselves in death traps on the road to seeking fame.

A sailor went out to hunt whales in the high seas. He encountered a killer whale and threw his harpoon, trapping the gigantic whale in the hook. When he pulled in the line, the whale proved to be too strong for the boat he was using. In the struggle to kill the whale, his boat was sunk and he was badly injured. He went home without a catch, he lost his boat and had a bad injury to attend to.

Not willing to give up, the whaler bought a larger boat and got more professional, muscular men to help him capture the same whale that had injured him, and his reputation as the greatest whaler of that time. He had a good memory of the whale and where it was to be found. He found it alright and just as prepared as he was, he found out the hard way that the whale was also prepared to remain alive and in the water. The great killer whale capsized the new boat, and actually killed the proud whaler.

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