Once upon a time, there lived a jackal in a dense forest. His name was Mahachaturaka. He was very clever. One day, while he was wandering in search of food, he came across a dead elephant.
He wanted to eat its flesh, but his teeth were not strong enough to cut through the tough hide of the elephant. So, he waited patiently for someone to come around.
In the meantime, a lion came there. The jackal said to him, “Your Majesty, please have a taste of the elephant. I have been guarding it for you only.”
“I eat only fresh animals, not the stale ones,” said the lion and went on his way.
The jackal became happy. He had still the full dead body of the elephant intact in his possession.
Next, there came a tiger. The jackal became afraid. He thought to himself that the tiger might eat up the whole elephant. So, he said to the tiger, “A hunter has killed this elephant with a poisoned arrow. Whosoever eats its flesh would die due to food poisoning. I’m guarding it to save the life of others.”
The tiger got frightened and soon disappeared into the dense forest.
As soon as the tiger went away there came two vultures. They sat over the dead body of the elephant. The clever jackal did not want them to eat the elephant.
So he said to them, “I’ve hunted this elephant and have sold its skin to two hunters. If they ever see you eating the elephant, they’ll kill both of you.”
The vultures became frightened and immediately flew away. But the jackal still looked for someone who would cut the tough hide of the elephant to make it easy for him to eat its flesh.
At last, there came a leopard. The jackal knew that the leopard had a sharp teeth. He could cut through the elephant’s hide. He said to him, “Friend, you seem to be hungry. Why not take a bite on the elephant.
It has been killed by a lion. He has gone home to bring his family. When I see him arriving, I’ll make a warning sign and then you can run away.”
The leopard agreed. He immediately sat down to cut open the elephant’s hide.
As soon as the jackal saw that leopard had cut through the elephant’s hide and was about to eat its flesh, he shouted, “There comes the lion.”
The leopard sprang up on its feet and quickly disappeared into the forest.
The jackal happily enjoyed the flesh of the elephant for many days together.