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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Parleys in the Jungle: Canines vs Felines

Like among our domesticated friends, the cat and the dog, in the wild, too, this generational debate finds no happy ending

Written by Ranjit Lal |
January 19, 2022 2:41:38 pm
Is lion truly the king of the jungle or is it just a self-proclaimed title? (Credit: Ranjit Lal)

Last week, there was a lively debate between domesticated canines and felines regarding which was superior. This week, we take the debate to their wild cousins, tigers, lions, wolves, foxes, et al. The conversation takes an unexpected turn…

DIJ: So, regarding your wild relatives, here too, you both claim that you are the superior family. How so?

Feline: The lion is the King of the jungle, the tiger the most glamorous and powerful cat in existence, the cheetah the fastest, the jaguar has the most powerful bite, the leopard is just so beautiful, the caracal jumps the highest, the lynx…I could go on and on…what do canids have? Hyenas, jackals, wolves, wild dogs…not exactly God’s gift to charisma!

Canine: Excuse me? The lion is the King of the jungle? Tell an elephant that! The tiger has to dress like he’s dead grass, the cheetah can’t run for more than 10 seconds without having a heart attack, the leopard slinks like a thief…

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Feline: Listen, we’ve been more successful. We’ve driven more than 40 wild relatives of yours to extinction — you haven’t succeeded in ousting a single one of us.

Canine: So, we’re more tolerant and humane. We don’t commit genocide on a species.

Feline: We hunt. We don’t go around snivelling for leftovers like you hyenas and jackals.

Canine: FYI, hyenas and jackals do hunt, when they feel it’s necessary. Besides, your kill rates are pathetic: only one in 20 tiger ambushes are successful. Wild dogs successfully kill 60 per cent of the time. And look at the cowardly way you hunt: hiding in the bushes waiting for some poor sucker to come along and then jumping on it. Wolves and hyenas give chase on the open savannas in plain sight. We hunt in packs — cooperatively and professionally — so, every member of the pack feels useful. And if we didn’t clean up after you, disease would spread like wildfire and take you down totally.

Feline: By the way, lions do hunt in prides.

Canine: Lions? You mean lionesses. You make the ladies do all the dirty, dangerous work and then land up at the dinner table and swipe babies out of the way so that their Lordships can stuff their faces! How sick is that? You, “Kings” just loll around for 20 hours a day like a bunch of bums. Wolves, jackals and wild dogs bring the food to the den, semi-processed before serving it up to the pups. And it’s not just the parents that take care of the pups — every pack member will give its life for them.

Feline: Listen, the King only bestirs himself when the pride faces a threat. How else can he be regarded as anything but a King? And when he does, the world trembles! A swipe from his paw can take the head off a buffalo; a roar sends grown men scuttling to the lavatory! Have you heard what hyenas sound like?

Canine: Hah! Nothing terrifies more than a wolf pack howling on a full-moon night. The most feared animal in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book was dhole, the wild dog! And who was the most noble? Akela, the wolf-pack leader. Who was the villain? Shere Khan, the tiger!

Feline: Kipling was just an ignorant, arrogant Englishman, obsessed like they all were with massacring tigers either in very good English or with guns. Bah! Now humans think tigers are the most valuable animals in the world. The Chinese even value our bones and think our private parts will give them — balls. Not the bones of jackals! And who wears a coat made of hyena fur?

Canine: FYI, wolves are equally important in maintaining ecosystems. They’ve reintroduced them into Yellowstone National Park in the US and the whole place has become ecologically vibrant again. And wolves had been exterminated from there and are still persecuted mercilessly all over the world.

Feline: Hey, don’t think you’re the only ones to have got a bad deal. Tiger numbers in India were down to what — 1,800 — a few years back? More than 80,000 had been killed between 1875 and 1935. Men went on tiger hunts not jackal hunts! It was considered a status symbol to kill a tiger. The late Duke of Edinburgh shot one when he visited India in 1961, with the Queen. Lions were nearly completely exterminated in Gir…

Canine: Humans were even more cowardly and devious with us: setting traps, poisoned bait, digging up our dens and killing our pups…

Feline: Hey, you DIJ fellow, what do you have to say about this? How do you defend your species’ role in our near-extinction?

DIJ (wiping brow): It’s all the fault of past generations… This generation knows better…

Feline: Better? So, you’ve crammed us into tiny enclosures called National Parks and then want to dig for coal and oil and build expressways through them? How different is that from shooting us outright?

Canine: And you’ve conveniently forgotten that if it weren’t for wild wolves, you wouldn’t have Snowy and Sheru wagging their tails at you today: Your best friends, by your own estimation.

Canine to Feline: You know what, bro? I think we can do with a lot fewer of these human viruses around. Come on, there are around 1.4 billion of them milling about and just about 3,000 of you… We need to even out those odds a bit…

Feline: I never thought I’d agree with you on anything. But this is different…

DIJ (backing away, hastily): Hey, hey, please keep a safe distance. We have to follow COVID-19 protocols.

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