Image Credit: Steve Daniels

David Hackenborough: The Alphas of the Herds

In my time observing the Hackius Hackius, I have observed some fascinating behaviour in how the competition for the position of ‘alpha’ takes place. It is a dangerous process, and one that seems to consume the majority of the Hackius’s time, but for those that manage it, the rewards are plentiful.

The most prominent contests are frequently those among the Hackius Unionus – featuring large herds of prey being ruthlessly hunted down and mercilessly torn apart for the Unionus’s advantage. Previous studies have observed very little competition for the place as alpha in the past, but with the recent changes in climate in Oxford, the beasts have been emboldened, with betas feeling able to challenge frequently to be head of the herd. Once in power, the alpha will usually tend to their wounds and seek to intimidate the betas and omegas into one hunting unit. Such efforts usually fail, with the betas viciously tearing one another apart before the alpha even departs.

However, the Hackius Politicolum’s contests for leadership are generally less violent, but no less competitive. The endangered golden herd of this species are languid in deciding their alpha, with very few betas stepping up to lead, being content with the amount of mating they already have. Meanwhile, the red-plumed Politicolum appear to favour a mating pair in charge of their pack, to unite their pack and ensure their progeny progress. Finally, I observed the betas of the famed blue-coated examples of this species using loud cries and constant aggression against the alpha to rise to their position – they are known to frequently challenge the alpha over the smallest difficulty to the herd.

Such competition as this for key positions in the group is typical throughout the Oxford ecosystem, but with the Hacks at its peak providing such a fascinating and destructive example, it is well worth an expedition to see. While an interesting spectacle, ensure that you employ an experienced guide to protect you from their predations – the alphas especially are known to be experienced at approaching and hypnotising unwary spectators, before pouncing suddenly. In Memoriam of those we have lost to hackery.