INDIVIDUAL SPEED, STRENGTH AND SURPRISE in the fight for survival is essential.  From the sheer power of a lion or elephant in attack or defense, to the ‘startle displays’ of the chameleon and the incredible speed of a cheetah are the differences between living and dying in the African bush.

The hunters are separated by their tools of strength, speed or surprise. They are equipped with the knowledge and weapons that will allow them to kill effectively.

More important than their claws, their teeth, and awesome abilities of stealth, ambush, speed or power is their instinct.

Carnivores are born hunter/killers, endowed with the instinct to hunt. The behaviour of a hunter is instinctive – even if it has just eaten – it will automatically hunt again if an opportunity presents itself.

There are several different predatory techniques.

Ambush hunting – this combines power and meat-hooking claws with stealth and quick reactions.

(Big cats will kill big animals by strangling or suffocating them.)

Endurance hunting – this combines stamina and focus with shearing teeth and cunning.

(Dogs and hyenas will run their prey to exhaustion and then ‘worry it to death’ by biting and tearing at the soft spots.)

Speed hunting – this combines precision of a death bite with speed and awesome mobility.

(Cheetahs have learnt to outrun the fleetest of prey, knock them over and deliver a precise bite to that locks out the ability to breathe.)

These are essential individual weapons that hunters need to survive but there is much more to survival than simply employing weapons.

Social structures, partnerships and co-operation make big game hunters like the lion and hyena more successful at maintaining territory, and at bringing down big animals that have serious defenses like the African buffalo.

Some, like the leopard, remain solitary and focused. – But without their social structures and partnerships leopards have to behave differently they lose their kill more often, they cannot bring down the big piece of the pie, but instead have to settle for smaller pieces of the ‘pie’.

Cheetahs do not have the strength or stealth that lions and leopards have, but they are precise and have learnt to hunt at a completely different time of the day. They share the smallest piece of the pie when it comes to the big cats.

Therefore only once the hunter’s social system s in place, the environment in which the hunter  functions and the hunter’s objective is organised in a manner that will provide support – will the hunter’s tools work!

Locating and killing prey is a dynamic skills set that has to work all the time OR you will not survive.

If you can’t develop these tactics as a hunter you will either end up dead or be branded as a parasite feeding off the kill of the real hunters.

Neil Heron

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