A colleague sent me a YouTube link yesterday of a video clip depicting an ambush in Africa. A herd of Cape buffalo is seen approaching a river. Obviously unbeknownst to the herd, a group of several lionesses are hunkered down in a wallow. Of course, the lions know all along what they’re planning but the herd has no idea at all. The predators tan blends in perfectly with the sand and dirt. By the time the lead bull sees the lions, it is too late. A young calf is quickly singled out and bowled over into the river. In knee-deep water, one lion grabs it by the throat, another by the head. Two others join in without much effect. Mostly they’re just there, waiting for the calf to suffocate.
After a few minutes, there is a commotion in the water and the lions suddenly start dragging the calf up the steep bank. A crocodile has grabbed the calf’s hinder parts. The lions win this fifteen-second tug-of-war and smother the calf to the ground and gather around it for dinner.
The herd has other plans.
The entire throng moves up close. One and another take turns rushing up toward the lions in what is surely a bluff. One of the buffs isn’t bluffing, though. It targets the lion on the near end and rushes, then spins and lands a double rear kick into the lion’s ribs, knocking it away from the calf. Then, it chases the lion away.
Just after that, another of the Cape crew tears into the group, dips its horns down underneath a lion and flips it up into the air like a rag doll. It lands near the herd and is quickly chased off in the opposite direction.
At that point, the calf struggles to its feet again, another buffalo and then another move in. One digs with its horns and the other delivers a whirling spin kick and the calf is freed. It runs back into the middle of the herd and the lions retreat. All in all, a pretty amazing episode, lasting about eight minutes.
Nothing has changed, really. The next day and the next, lions and crocodiles will continue to feed upon whatever they can ambush, whatever they can overwhelm, whatever is weaker, less aware, unprotected. That is the nature of beasts and predators. There will be, from time to time, some refreshing story of the courage of the herd, the against all odds rescue that makes us shake our heads and wonder if we would rush in against the lions.
Whether or not the calf ultimately died from its wounds or not, I don’t know. But I do know this: if it did, it was because of the lions and the crocodile, not because its herd lacked the nerve or courage. To do justice often requires risk. And for the weak and frail, it is only by the love of others that they are able to prevail.