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The Clever Fox and the Dead Elephant

Once upon a time, there was a fox  in a forest.  He was not a hunter.  He did not catch any prey of sufficient size to eat.  Sometimes, he would catch a small mouse or a hare.  But, those were rare occasions.   He mostly lived on leftovers of animals hunted by other predators. Often, he went hungry for many days.

So, when the fox discovered an elephant’s carcass one day, his joy knew no bounds.  He was extremely happy. 

The elephant was a large animal.  “I will never go hungry this year”, the fox told himself, “this will last me many months.”

He walked around the elephant and looked at it.  It was indeed a large animal.  He wanted to start eating it at once.  But there was a problem.  The elephant’s hide was thick and the fox’s teeth were not strong enough to tear the thick skin.  The fox was perplexed.  Here he was with such a large quantity of food and unable to taste it.  He felt helpless.  His quick-thinking mind was working on how he could get at the meat.

Just then he could hear the roar of a lion.  The fox was alarmed. “What if the lion steals my prized finding”, he thought to himself.  The roar was getting closer.  Quickly, he hit upon an idea.  As the lion appeared, the fox fell prostrate before him.  “Your majesty,  You are the king of the forest.”, he said, “I have just found a dead elephant.  It appears that the carcass is a few days old.  I wanted to come and  offer it to you.  But now you have yourself come here.”

The clever fox played to the lion’s vanity.  He knew that the lion would not eat a carcass that was dead for days.  The lion declined as he had expected and went his way.  The fox was relieved.

He was still looking for a way to open up the thick hide when he heard a tiger’s growl.  He was afraid once more.  He wondered how would he save his finding from this predator.  The tiger came close.  Seeing the dead elephant and the fox, he gave an angry growl.  He expected that the fox would run away.  But the quick-witted fox did not.  He seemed not to bother.  The tiger lounged a few steps forward and gave another growl and made a display of its sharp teeth.

The fox turned to the tiger and said.  “O Tiger, I would gladly give this elephant to you.  But this elephant was killed by the Lion.  He has asked me to look after it while he returns after a bath.”  The Tiger was scared of the lion.  He did not dare stay in the vicinity any longer.  The quickly left.
The Fox was relieved again.

He was still wondering how he could get to the flesh of the elephant.  He tried to bite at the skin but the skin was too thick for him.

Just then, he saw a leopard.  The leopard was slightly smaller and lightly built than the tiger.  But he still had sharp teeth and powerful jaws.  The fox had a brilliant idea.  The leopard came close and sniffed at the carcass.  He looked at the fox.  The fox looked at the leopard and smiled, “O Leopard, this elephant was killed by a lion.  The Lion has asked me to look after it.  He had gone to have a bath.  I am taking care of this.”

The leopard was disappointed that he would not be able to eat the flesh of the elephant.  Sensing this, the wily fox said, “I have an idea.  You can eat of the elephant’s flesh.  I will keep watch.  If I see the lion coming, I will sound the alarm.  You can leave at once”.

The leopard was pleased.  The idea seemed good.  “The fox is such a kind animal”, he thought to himself.  He thanked the fox for his graciousness.  He soon set upon the dead animal.  His sharp teeth cut through the hide easily.  Soon, he had reached the flesh.  He ate in great haste.  The fox was closely watching the leopard.  As soon as he felt that sufficient skin had been opened and he could handle the carcass himself, the fox shouted to the leopard, ”Here comes the Lion!. Quick! Run!”.  The leopard did not even dare to look to see if the lion was coming.  He stopped eating and fled in terror.

The fox was now happy.  He had cleverly outwitted two big animals and intelligently put the third animal to use.  The elephant was now his.  The fox feasted on the elephant for a long time.