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Part 1 The jackal

The jackal arrived first. Stopping every few meters to look around, over this shoulder, over that shoulder, turn all the way around and look again. Then do it again a few meters later and again a few meters after that. Finally, at the zebra carcass, she ripped off big chunks and swallowed them almost whole. Standing on the ribs for better traction, tearing, stopping to scan every mouthful or two, gulping as much as possible. Working every angle for the best grip and the most meat, she moved from one end of the zebra to the other and back again. Watching and eating.

Black-backed jackal with zebra carcass. Moremi National Park, Botswana

Part 2 The hyenas

Three hyenas materialized, one by one, in the grass 30 or 40 meters from the carcass. The jackal stood on high alert. It went back to the carcass, but more furtively, inhaling as many big chunks as she could.ย The hyenas began working their way in, looking around as they moved. And then, just as quickly as they appeared, they dissolved back into the grass.ย The jackal stood down.

Hyenas in the grass. Moremi National Park, Botswana

Part 3 The lions

As the hyenas began their descent upon the carcass, a lioness sauntered into view through the grass. Lying down 20 meters out from the carcass, only her back and head were visible. The hyenas made their exit. The jackal went back to business with renewed vigor.

A few minutes later, another lioness appeared in the grass. Moving around the first, she strolled the perimeter, moving slowly toward the carcass. The jackal took note and without rushing or being in any way obvious, she evaporated from the scene.

The lions took turns moving closer, repositioning themselves, lounging near the carcass but not going directly to it. They were both within a few meters, rolling a little, posing for the morning sun, seemingly enjoying their implicit power over hyenas and jackals. One flopped to the ground with a post-zebra belly in need of rest, while the other dragged the carcass closer to a covering tree and began feeding. Breakfast is served.

 

Zebra breakfast, Moremi National Park