The Protector

African Lion
Atop the highest rock stood the alpha male, un-moving, regal, as if hewn out of the very rock he stood upon. As the giant, pale yellow moon rose on the horizon, the solitary figure on the rock was silhouetted against it, lending an eerie, almost surreal touch to the scene. His eyes, red as glowing embers, set deep under a huge forehead, surveyed the surroundings. His territory! Over the years, he had expanded it, bit by bit… claiming victories over others who had dared challenge his superiority. His enormous body bore the marks of his triumphs.

A silent wind blew in from the west, evoking a dull hiss from the vast grassland that surrounded the rock. The rock and a thicket nearby, stood out like sore thumbs in this unending landscape of grass.
The alpha male could hear another sound over the rustle of the grass. His herd was feeding in the thicket. The females and the little ones were at ease, knowing that their protector was keeping a watch.
Suddenly… a third sound, almost imperceptible, reached the ears of the male. Unmoved from his perch, he moved his gaze in the direction of the sound. It took him a few moments to make out an unmistakable shape of another large male moving stealthily through the grass… towards the rock… and the thicket. The intruder, like a fool, had chosen a bright night to make his move.
The male atop the rock did not feel threatened. He had seen countless attempts by intruders trying to encroach upon his ground. He felt irritated — merely irritated. This fool did not even warrant a charge, he decided. It would be beneath his stature. So he let the intruder continue on his foolhardy quest… not letting him know that he had been spotted. The intruder advanced forward stealthily (or so he thought), trying to stay under the cover of the gently rustling grass.
When he was within striking distance, the giant alpha male slowly stood up to his full height, puffed up his chest and looked towards the sky. He then let out a roar that seemed to fill the empty darkness of the night. It grew in volume till the sound could be mistaken for a roll of thunder… the only difference was that this sound was chilling and had the power to freeze the blood in its tracks. The sight was terrifying too. Silhouetted against the moon stood the giant creature, its head thrown back, the chest puffed up, the jaws open, baring the sharp fangs. It was a sight intended to terrify the opponents and it never failed to do just that!
The intruder stood rooted to the spot, expecting the inevitable attack… which never came. The living daylights had been scared out of him. The only thing left to do was to put as many miles between him and the creature, who let out that terrifying bellow. So he ran… as hard as he could… away… into the night… never to be seen within miles of this place.
Seeing that his roar had the desired effect, the alpha male settled back in his place on the rock as if nothing had transpired. The night had fallen silent again and the wind continued to rustle through the grass… The territory was safe again. So was the herd feeding in the thicket.
No one messes with the alpha male and his brood.
No one!
Footnote: I had originally written/published this post/story about 12 years ago on my personal blog.
Photo credits: Michael Day (copyright)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *