Tuesday, July 05, 2022

A Jaguar

One of the many things I never thought I'd write is "Eli 20.11 saw a jaguar."

Chicaque Natural Park is 100 square kilometers of dense cloud forest. It's also still part of the natural range of the jaguar in Colombia, although it's very rare in the northern part of the country. Scientists estimate that 1-2 jaguars live in Chicaque Natural Park, and they're rarely seen. 

Eli was hiking on Sunday as soon as the park opened. He was literally the first person on his trail. He'd been walking for about half an hour when he saw a tree move ahead of him, to the side of the trail. Branches parting, which got his attention. 

He moved forward slowly and saw a jaguar looking at him from its perch in the tree, about fifteen feet up and roughly twenty yards away.

Eli said he was stunned, because he knew the chances of seeing a jaguar were almost zero, plus he could get eaten. He knew, though, that jaguars are only rarely aggressive toward humans. And this particular jaguar, he said, seemed very chill, just watching him from its perch in the tree, not tense in any way. 

Eli looked back, and they just watched each other for a little while. Then he slowly began walking along the trail. The jaguar stayed in the tree, though, and showed no inclination to leave. 

Once he passed the jaguar, Eli turned around and walked backwards so that he could continue to face it. Then, after he was beyond the point where he could be seen, he said he turned and ran the fastest fifty yards anyone could possibly run. 

He also said it was one of the greatest moments of his life.

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