Animal Dilemmas – Anaconda Black Panther
The Panther have never doubted its choices in life. In fact it didn’t believe in choices. It believed in itself only. It never had a mentor figure, a parent or someone to look up to. Its parents were a blurred memory, that one day vanished. The Panther learned all the facts of the jungle the hard way and had the scars to prove it. It have lived a lonely life and struggle after struggle its hard solidified. It killed without thought or feeling. If it sensed danger, it attacked. When at peace, it slept. It never wondered what’s beyond the jungle in the mountains or plains.
But after it met the Condor its curiosity grew. It had spend all its life in the same territory. It knew every tree, every brook, every rock. Hunting lost animals was easy. They were predictable, they traveled curios and searching for something. What did they search for thought the Panther. It was clear as day to it that staying in one place is the best way to strengthen your position in the jungle. What was to be found and learned by traveling? The facts of life under the thick canopy were infinitely clear – establish your territory, kill all contenders, know the land and yourself and know one can defeat you. Why in the jungle would anyone try to see the entire world. No one could possible understand it, it didn’t hold any wisdom, it was waste of time.
So why, thought the Panther, why did all these animals wasted their time. They were spoiled, it decided. They were cuddled warm to sleep by their parents, handed every drop of food until they were blind to the truth of the jungle. After that ruinous lesson the jungle couldn’t teach them a thing. Their mind was firmly set. Just like the Panther’s was set to the opposite. And that opposite was that nothing and nobody would ever help it. Being thought that through having to fend for itself in a ruthless, uncharitable world unlike he giants’, the Panther despised those that had it easy and took life light. If they took it light they didn’t deserve it and could serve as its supper, it thought.
The Panther had lived its life firmly set in its way showing no charity to any living thing in the jungle. And that had made it feared. No creature was feared more than the Panther expect for the Anaconda.
But now after meeting the Condor and seeing that a great beast that rules the skies can be feared and powerful and travel a great distance, and at the same time it could be pleasant in conversation to strangers that could have meant it harm, the Panther grew restless with interest about the world outside of its territory.
For a time, the Panther restricted its exploits to passing the furthest tree of its territory and hunting in the unbeaten jungle. It went further each day but soon it realized that the jungle outside of its territory was not much different. The same rules applied except for the occasional conflict with a local jaguar. The Panther wanted to see more, it wanted an alternate world all together. It knew the only to travel that far was to use the catapults.
The catapults were built and managed by a clan of gorillas hundreds of rain seasons ago. The current generation of gorillas was not the strongest and some of the catapults were in need of repair. They were often sabotaged by rivaling macaque clans. The catapult stations ran in a line east across the jungle and sped up travel down river. That was the direction the Panther chose. Each link of the catapults cost the jungle traveler a bunch of bananas, passion fruit or the equivalent. The Panther killed a macaque and delivered it the gorillas. They loaded the cat into a wicker basket and sent it over the canopy. The Panther held its breath above the green ocean bellow. It crossed a young branch of the river system and landed on a tree outfitted with wicker nets. The net was rotten from the rains and the basket went through it. The Panther leaped out and caught a branch, it climbed down, killed another monkey and delivered it the gorillas for the second link of its journey.
The Panther traversed seventeen catapult links in three days. Before it climbed in the basket of the last link that would deliver it as far east as the the catapults went, the gorillas warned it that it would land in anaconda land and it would no longer be at the top of the jungle food chain. They explained that giant anacondas often lurk around the landing, attacked travelers while they were shocked from the landing and swallowed them whole. The Panther proceeded without delay.
It decided that if it was to die defeating a legendary beast its own legend would travel further if it entered its territory without reservations.
The gorillas cut the rope and the catapult propelled the wicker basket holding the Panther. The catapult was at the edge of a cliff overlooking vast thick rain forest. The cliff was high and it gave the Panther a prolonged flight. At first it was as if the earth below it disappeared as the basket went through a layer of clouds. Then the earth started approaching fast and the Panther had to wedge its paws in the wicker so not to separate from the basket.
The landing site was a pond at the foot of a waterfall. The Panther broke a few branches off the umbrelling trees and made a thunder of a splash in the water.
When it reached the shore and shook off the water from its back it paused. It noticed that the jungle had gone silent. It was the first time since its very first steps in the jungle that the Panther felt like the prey. But it knew very well what was the best course of action. It climbed a rock on the shore that gave it a good view around and waited.
The evening was still and silent. Every creature from the vicinity had seemed to have fallen asleep early. The Panther knew that the anacondas were stealth beast so it walked in circles on top of the rock. Occasionally the waters of the pond broke but nothing more. The Panther was tired and thought of finding a safer place to sleep. The silence fed its drowsiness and night was coming.
The Panther was about to leap off the rock and enter the jungle when am arrow pierced rib cage. It tumbled from the rock and stayed pinned to the ground. The fear from the anacondas had turned the Panther blind for the danger of giants. A settlement had been erected near the waterfall and even anacondas had withdrawn from the area. And those who stayed were hunted and killed.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Animal Dilemmas – Tuesday, September 27th
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photograph by Scott Umstattd