You don’t have to outrun the wolves, you just have to outrun the other thing that the wolves are chasing.
Nature can be a brutal place, made evident by this horrifying situation where a bison basically sacrificed one of its herd members so that it could get away from predators. It’s actually a pretty tough video to watch, but a good representation of how cut throat living in the wild can be.
Luckily for most of us, all we have to worry about now is how much our drink from the coffee shop is, or what time the big game comes on this weekend. Our ancestors probably had to battle with wild beasts and fight to survive like this on a daily basis, and the worst of ancient living had to be the nightmare above all others: no air conditioning.
Now we just get to scroll on our phones or computers and see stuff like this still happening in the wild and say “man, that sucks for that bison,” then just go on with our lives. Many describe events like this as the “Circle of Life,” though I’d imagine the bison that got pushed down and eventually ripped apart by wolves wasn’t super appreciative of nature “balancing itself out.”
In the clip from BBC’s Frozen Planet, a bison is running through a snow-covered field and trying to escape from a vicious pack of wolves. The setting for the scene is beautiful, but the actual focus of the footage is as gnarly as it gets. With the bison trying to fight off at least eight wolves at once, things weren’t looking promising from the get-go.
A number of other bison go running by the bison in distress, not even thinking for a moment that they could stop and help, and that it could be a pretty even fight if they did so. They instead leave the bison out to dry, but at least they were still giving it a slim chance to make it by doing so.
Around 10 seconds into the video, a bison runs up behind the one that’s being attacked. Could it be the “Knight in Shining Armor” that the bison has been waiting for to swoop in and save the day? It certainly looked like that might be the case, until you hear the velvety voice of David Attenborough say:
“Running head down, the herd’s only thought is escape. A stroke of luck for the wolves.”
The bison trailing behind the other actually rams right into its herd member (seemingly on purpose), knocking it down into the snow and allowing for the wolves to officially ring the dinner bell. And I don’t know that it was a “stroke of luck” for the wolves as much as it was an “assh*le move” by the other bison.
If you watch it again, it becomes pretty clear that the bump was no accident. Clearly the bigger bison thought that sacrificing the smaller herd mate would be in the best interest of the rest of them. Try telling that to the bison that got eaten alive by a hungry pack of wolves though…
I hate to sound like an ethics textbook, but this is the perfect example of the theory of utilitarianism. When faced with a tough moral choice, those practicing utilitarianism will choose the option that is best for the greater good, even if it means sacrificing something, or someone.
I’m not implying that these bison were thinking in ethical terms during this battle with wolves, though it did end up being a great representation of moral and ethical conundrums.
Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much there, and before I lose you to another thing, just go ahead and press play on this video of ruthless bison sacrifice: