This story is a great way to introduce the topic of food webs, or food chains in Science. It could also be used to discuss animals and ecosystems in India, as part of a Geography lesson.
Mr and Mrs Crow lived in the upper branches of a giant poplar tree in the jungles of northern India. They were the proud parents of three generations of young crows, some of whom had grown up and established their own nests. Their latest hatchlings were proving to be a bit impatient however.
“Mum, I’m hungry! What’s for lunch today?” said their youngest baby bird.
“I’m not sure son. Like every day, we’ll have to wait and see what becomes available to us,” said Papa Crow.
“Can’t we just go and kill something?” asked the eldest baby bird.
“No, certainly not. That is not our way. We must wait and see if any animals offer themselves to us. That is the way it has always been,” said Mama Crow.
Just then the forest became absolutely silent. There was no scurry of little feet. No flapping of wings, no buzzing of bees. Even the trees held themselves as still as possible.
“What’s going on?” whispered the eldest baby bird to his father.
“The King and his family are on their way. We must show our respect by being silent,” answered Papa Crow, as softly as he could.
The family of crows sat silently on their branch and watched as a family of lions entered the small clearing below them. The baby Crows had never seen the giant cats before and looked upon them with awe. Their thick orange coats shone in the leafy light and their soft grunting noises alerted the whole forest to their presence.
The family of lions found a small patch of sunlight and took their rest. They had been walking for most of the day and they were tired. The mother lions settled their young cubs in for a nap and then went off to find food for their family.
“We’ll need something medium sized as the cubs are growing so quickly,” one of the mothers said. The other females agreed.
The mothers sat quietly and waited to see which animal would make themselves available for their dinner. A squirrel ran past, but they all agreed it was too small. A monkey swung by on the lower branches of a nearby tree, but he was too quick. Finally, a deer emerged from behind a tree.
“Look ladies, there is a deer. He would be perfect for us. He would feed the whole family easily,” said the youngest mother.
The mother lions slowly crept into their hunting formation and the oldest mother took the lead. She knew best how to kill her prey quickly so they felt no pain.
Quick as can be the three mothers jumped on their prey, killed it swiftly and carried it back to their family to share for dinner.
The mothers stood back and let their husband have the first bites. It was important for the survival of their family that he remain strong, so that he could protect them from any dangers. Next they took their share and finally the cubs dived in and had their dinner.
Pretty soon the father lion’s roar could be heard far and wide.
“Don’t be greedy children! You must be sure to leave some for the rest of the forest creatures who live here,” he said.
The young cubs stepped back from their dinner immediately.
“Sorry father,” they said, bowing their heads in shame.
“We are the Lords of this place and every place we enter. If you are a Lord then you have to make sure that everyone is looked after,” the lion said, softer this time.
With that, the family of lions licked each other’s coats clean, and left the clearing.
The family of crows were still watching silently from above as the lions left.
“Can we eat some of that yummy deer now Mamma?” said the baby birds in unison.
“No, not yet,” she answered. “First the furry creatures who live near the ground have some, then some of the wild dogs and finally when they are all full, we can have the rest,” Mamma explained.
“Why do we have to wait so long?” the eldest baby crow asked.
“Because that is the law of nature son,” said Papa Crow. “We all get a chance to share in the meals of others, but we have to wait our turn. That way we can all live happily together in this beautiful forest,” he explained.
The family of crows sat patiently on their branch, watching as many little forest creatures came in to enjoy the meal the lions had left for them. Slowly as they all became full, the crows knew their time had come.
Swiftly they flew down to the deer and enjoyed their dinner.
“The part near the bones is the best bit for us. It helps keep our beaks strong,” said their mother as they pecked.
Pretty soon there was hardly any meat left on that deer. Tomorrow the insects would arrive and clean up the rest. All the forest settled in for the night with full tummies, grateful to the family of lions for their gift.
“It’s always a good day for us when the Lords of the Jungle come to visit,” said old Mamma Crow sleepily as she tucked her head under her wing for the night.
“Indeed it is,” agreed Papa Crow. “They are the strongest and most powerful of all the forest creatures. They are fearsome, but they only kill to eat and they always leave some behind so others can enjoy part of their feast. Lions really are the Kings of the jungle.”
Download the story to read to your class: Lords of the Jungle – by Sarah Parker
Related lesson resources:
Cycle of Life 1: Food Chain – Science NetLinks This great teaching resource from Science NetLinks includes lesson descriptions, worksheets, videos and quizzes.
BBC Schools – Food Chains Lesson Plan – This lesson plan contains great links to worksheets, videos and other resources for K-2 students to explore food chains.