You want a quick and easy lesson in how to navigate in a world that contains predators? Well, turn on the TV and find Animal Planet or any channel featuring non-interference nature-documentary programming. We’re all familiar enough with the sort of programming I mean that the following example will be immediately familiar. Picture the arid plains of the African Serengeti during the dry season. The landscape is one of various shades of tans and deep browns. The sole watering hole in the area is trafficked by a wide array of species, both predator and prey, that one does not usually see in such close proximity if the need for water didn’t hold precedence.
Now, picture a herd of gazelle or springbok navigating towards the watering hole. We, the TV viewers, have been shown that there is a stalking lion in the area but the herd, not having paid their cable bill, are unaware of this fact. While unaware of the definite presence of a major predator they still do not make a blithe approach to the watering hole. Rather, you see a circuitous approach made in fits and starts as various leaders of the herd stop to sniff the air, or cock their ears towards an unfamiliar noise. Here, we see a prey species exercising preparatory caution.
It is only after the herd has deigned the area relatively safe do they commence quenching their thirsts. We, the privy viewer, observe the lion make her tentative stalk, edging ever closer towards the herd. We notice that she does not approach directly, out in the open announcing her presence but rather the “king of the jungle” approaches in a sly, furtive manner. This is another rule of predator-prey interaction at play: Although the lion has the advantage of strength/mass, fierce weaponry (teeth and claws) the predator still forgoes frontal assault and seeks to control the time and location of the attack as much as possible. Again, the predator gets to choose as many control parameters as it can manage whereas as the gazelle controls none.
When the lion makes its rush to attack we notice that the prey choices are invariably the same; predators choose from four classes of prey (victims).
1. The Young
2. The Old
3. The Infirm
4. The Inattentive
The lion is not looking for a fair fight. The lion is not looking for a challenge. The lion is behaving economically; she seeks the easiest vector to acquire her goals (in this case a meal for her and her cubs). The young, old, and/or infirm prey make goal acquisition a more likely prospect. The inattentive animal, while it may be fleet of hoof or able to fight back under the best of circumstances has placed itself on the list by dint of not being awareNature obeys this predator-prey relationship all up and down the food chain. We, as human animals are not exempt from these laws of nature.
It is in our best interests to remind ourselves now and again that we are, indeed, animals. Along with this fact of nature we must also remind ourselves that we are a member of an unusual species, one that can be both predator and prey. The civilized, law-abiding citizenry among us are prey animals. The criminal scum of the earth are the predators. Keeping the “laws of the jungle” in mind and their implications for prey species we need to remain vigilant to remain safe. Predators seek ease of acquisition and by exercising vigilance and removing as many factors as we can from the “Easy Prey” checklist we increase our chances of removing ourselves from the predator’s menu.
[This has been extracted from our book No Second Chance: A Reality Based Guide to Self-Defense.]