The Ventura’s visit to southern China had been one they had envisioned for a long time. The beauty of this foreign land had only been seen in Natural Geographic Books from the local library. They had saved their money for years just to be able to come and enjoy the beauty of this native land.
The drive in a broken-down rusty truck was no fun at all. The dust filled every cavity of the human’s body yet after a shower in a remote waterfall things began to relax and come together as they had imagined.
The scouts made sure they did not go beyond the safe areas and told tales of people being attacked and eaten by wild animals. They wanted to see the beautiful black jaguar even if from a distance. Laura, the mother had taught in local schools in America and had a great love for cats big or small. Among her packed items were very expensive binoculars so she could get a close up look without being really close up.
The scouts had told stories of different colored jaguars, some golden tan, some with spots and some with black rings. The scouts referred to the black variety and the terrible “black tiger” from the lost world. Their stories had been told for hours impressing upon the Ventura’s that the area was dangerous but the cats in the area were even far more dangerous. This particular scout could mimic the sound of the Black Panther exactly for he had heard it in the dark of night for decades.
“We will pitch our tents hear near the waterfall and make our camp fire just at the edge of the forest. We will stay between the waterfall and the forest near the light of the fire. ”Chatou the scout said as he pulled the old truck to a stop. “I don’t think we will find a better place around here. Put all the tents in a circle with the fire in the middle. Be sure all tents are fastened down in the back securely. Speak quietly but enjoy the scenery before the darkness falls.”
Laura and her children, Les and Danielle were busy slapping at all the bugs flying about them. The picture perfect story was beginning to be a not so picture perfect. Daniel, Laura’s husband was a strong fellow standing nearly seven feet tall. He had been in muscle training for years playing all the sports he could while he was young. Now he had given in to Laura’s fantasy. The family was going to suffer if necessary in order for her to see the beauty of the wild animal she so cherished.
Supper was finished and everyone was inside their tents hoping to rest. Good hot food and a cool bathe made sleeping come quickly. The sounds of the wildlife all around them lulled them into a deep sleep. Well all slept well except the scouts who kept watch in turn.
“I sure hope Diablo stays in the forest tonight. Maybe we can get a few shots for Mrs. Ventura and get back as soon as possible. I don’t feel safe at all in this darkness. Sunrise will be a welcome sight to me.” Shucha said softly.
“If you hear that cry we spoke about you get things ready. He will usually sound his eerie cry before he comes into a camp but then again, who knows. This time could be totally different.” Potts the other scout answered.
Les was restless and decided to peep out of the back of the tent. He carefully dug a small area and pulled the tent upward so he could see what was outside. As his eyes lifted from the ground he found himself face to face with two huge green eyes starring into his eyes. A huge head was only inches from his nose. Chills ran down his spine. What was he to do?
If he screamed the panther could rip off his head with one bite. Slowly he slid back into the tent. Holding his breath for what seemed like forever, he reached to awaken his father who was sleeping next to him. Quietly he told his father about the huge beast just outside the tent. His young heart raced wildly. He had never been so frightened in his entire life. His father reached for his gun but lay there as still as could be waiting to see if the animal would attack. After all he could be just curious about all the tents and the sounds.
Les heard screams coming from his mother’s tent and covered his ears. His body sunk deeper into the sleeping bag. Guns fired and the sounds of voices could be heard. Cries from the cat filled the air as he announced his arrival. Les lay as still as a mouse, pretending to be dead. He figured if he lay still the beast would not find him. His eyes were squeezed together as tight as he could keep them.
When hush finally fell upon the camp Les and his father were the only ones left alive. The scouts were mangled brutally and left scattered about the ground. Laura and Danielle were gone. Had they been dragged into the forest while still alive or were their bodies taken for food for the family of cats?
What had started as a beautiful dream vacation had now become a terrible nightmare. When you enter the territory of a wild animal you are taking a terrible risk. Wild animals see people only as food and not as playmates. Don’t open your eyes one day to only to see two huge green eyes looking back at you!
Question: Is it natural for wild animals to kill humans that they have never seen?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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