Wednesday, September 9, 2009

survival of the fittest..

Here's an article i wrote for the Flamingo in-flight magazine in January of's called survival of the "fastest"

While the extinct sabre-toothed tigers turn in their graves howling “oh father why have thou forsaken us”, cheetahs continue the struggle for survival in their habitat, taking what is theirs. Found in their utopia (Etosha National Park, a savannah area), moving in groups, often with their siblings. Etosha provides a buffet they would normally only imagine, which makes it nearly impossible if not difficult for them to loathe the biome. It has become a haven, where they’ve witnessed their offspring grow into healthy physiques. Etosha, a dry and open grassland infested by shrubs simulating trees, is one of the largest game reserves in the world, with an array of animals to its roster (elephants, antelopes, lions, rhinoceroses, cheetahs, zebras, ostriches, giraffes etc.), housing over about 300 species of birds.

With a stunning speed of 110 kilos per hour to their credit, cheetahs hold the record as the fastest animal on land. In fact its even been suggested on several occasions, that they are the culprits to have had inspired Frankie Fredrick, the Namibian multi-medal winner in various 100m/200m dashes.
Their illustrious features include a beautiful brownish/yellow coat, with black spots. However, as if to avoid plagiarism, their trademark coat of facial black marks running below their eyes down their cheeks, along with a classy alias (Acinonyx jubatus), distinguish them from their cousins, the leopards.

The cheetah’s thin body is specifically designed for the sole purpose of attacking prey by running. It is this running which the cheetahs embrace as the essence of their existence, having been an endangered species for a couple of decades now. Their daily menu (starter, main course, and dessert) is mainly meat, courtesy of the populous herd of antelope and springbok. Their hunting activities are mostly done during daylight, using sight and running as their only solace. There are exceptions though, at dusk when cheetahs kill prey to quench the yearn of their empty stomachs.
When the darkness of night swallows the ecosystem, moonlight is left as the only illumination. Reflection proves this by its appearance in the little dams and puddles of water. Cricket noises provide the soundtrack to the habitat while the lions begin to dominate, and with their expertise in nocturnal blood sport, the body count prey is high. Unlike the cheetahs, the lions would ambush their prey from all angles, working together simultaneously. The lionesses do the hunting, while the males only join them after the kill, to share the meat.

While cheetahs and lions feast with charisma separately under the shrubs, the hyenas linger in the shadows with yearn for meat, and hope for enough leftovers to scavenge. Their amusing structure maniacal laughter gives them appearance of habitual jesters of the habitat.
The cheetah’s cousins, the leopards furiously lurk up in the few quantifiable trees, which serve as hunting grounds, as well as repositories for slaughtered prey. These trees are also used to stakeout and ambush terrestrial prey, which they hunt at night. They mostly attack prey unfavourable to their competitors, dragging them up the trees to avoid the nuisance of the hyenas. Leopards would sometimes stalk monkeys in the trees just to have a midnight snack.

In the end, it’s not really about the power of an ambush or the frightening roar that send flocks of birds flying scattering into the heavens. It comes back to speed and agility, because when it comes to surviving in the wild, only those two abilities are most vital. Its these two competences which may be used when fleeing from predators, and this same force morphs into advantage when bringing down prey. With these advantages on the cheetah resume`, they could remain endangered for a while yet.

Mobb deep - survival of the fittest

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