He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
An exciting evening of watching wildlife last fall in the Kruger National Park had been heightened by the inky darkness of the moonless night. The lights of our safari truck shattered the path in front of us and three search lights moved back and forth beside our vehicle. Cathy held one of those lamps and continually for three hours swayed searching for eyes and night life.
All of a sudden the driver brings the vehicle to a quick halt. I noticed a monkey in the road. He was dead from an apparent car. We pulled beside him to realize it was an adolescent baboon. He appeared to have been dead for a few hours. But he couldn’t have been hit here. We had just passed here recently and there was no road kill.
In this surreal moment I realized there was grass in his mouth. I thought . . . how odd! Viewing the scene created more questions than answers.
Then in the shadow of the bush on the road appeared a hyena. The hyena was clearly nervous. He looked down the road. Then up the road and took a slight step toward the kill. Then he retreated only to appear a second time and skittishly step out on the road again. Back and forth he seemed to go as he clearly feared for his life. His ears were attentive to every sound. His head was racing every direction looking for danger.
But the prize of a baboon meal was too strong. Finally he raced out and grabbed the baboon on the side of his chest and lifted him up. You could see the enormous strength of his jaws, neck and shoulders. He was massively built with longer front legs to lift the prey. With nimble motion he quickly turned and disappeared into the dark bush with his trophy.
As we drove on down the road my mind began to process the event I had just witnessed. Questions rose to the surface like bubbles. Did the hyena kill him? They are much slower than the baboon. Did another animal kill him? Was the body stolen by the hyena? You would think it would have been partially consumed by the other animal if that were the case. Was it road kill elsewhere and had we scared the hyena as he crossed the road with the body? Maybe he dropped him and raced for safety? Answers seemed murky.
There was one thing that was obvious. However he died . . . he was caught unaware. He was eating at the moment of his death. There was no time to relax his jaw as the grass remained firm in his mouth. Maybe the hyena killed him and was retreating from other stronger animals who might take the baboon. He acted as if his life was on the line as he ran away with his meal.
Hyenas usually feed on carrion like a scavenger. They are even known to exhume bodies in Palestine. In Biblical times people who could afford it had their loved ones buried in caves protected by large stones. But hyenas are also known to kill small animals when carrion is scarce.
It is an eerie feeling that we can be caught unaware and dragged off. I am afraid this event is all too common. I think it is a portrait of what can happen to our heart, mind and soul. I think people are dragged off everyday. Not just in Kruger . . . but all around the world.
Many Christians are focused on themselves. They feel such a need to be satisfied. They look down for just a moment . . . and the enemy pounces. Unfortunately we do become oblivious and careless! We are unaware of the dangers right around us, especially spiritually.
Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.