The Hunter and the Hunted

Here's an excerpt from a great book I've just read: How To Be Wild by Simon Barnes (he of purple sporting prose in The Times) - its the kind of book that's almost perfect for me, a collection of heart-jolting pieces of nature writing, exploring the emotions we feel on interacting with the wildness that still lies all around us - it's actually a bit like reading a whole book of Nige

Anyway, on to Barnes:

"The fate of top predators is tied to that of their prey. And their prey are often boom-and-bust species. Every now and then, a population explosion is followed by a crash. It is not the predators that control the population: this is to do with the dynamics of their prey and their food sources. Rather, the prey dictates the number of predators: in a boom year, the predators are in cover; in a bust year, they suffer. It is the furry teddies that dictate the pace: and it is the sleek and fierce: those of sharp beak and cruel talons, that suffer when the prey population is down.

It is not the lions who are masters of the african bush. No: it is the buffalos they feed on. The impalas control the leopards. The weak control the strong: and no matter how many brilliant solutions the predators come up with - the teamwork of the lion, the stalking skills of the leopard, the ears of the owl and the vision of the falcon - it is always the hunted that remain in control.


Brit said...

That's very Barnesian. He's a great journalist, adds a lot to the sportspage landscape. My only criticism is that he's a bit tiring over a long read, because he tends to take one really good insight (like the one in your post) and repeat it in ten different shades of purple.

worm said...

very true - which is why I was delighted to discover that each chapter is only the length of a blogpost, it's just little musings really, (which makes for a great bedtime reading) rather than the full blown epoch making greatest sporting moment of all time history in the making stuff that he unleashes every weekend in the sports section!