Jungle Cat

Dan's Leopard     FWS Director Dan Ashe Visits Tanzania

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Look up into the branches on the right and consider the title of this picture… how could there not be a story here?

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This photo was taken by Dan Ashe.
I discovered it on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/18711181066/in/dateposted/

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(Does this photo inspire you too? Write your own story and link to it in the comments if you want to share).

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Here’s my take on the scene….
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            A good photographer, thought Dan, cannot accept every warning he receives at face value. Hell, in Indonesia, the volcano smoked for days but never erupted. The fiery shots of smoke and ash he was able to capture were brilliant. He had them framed in his own home, adding black and fire-orange accents to his open spaced living room.

            Local villagers danced around him as he came upon the trailhead. They expressed their concerns and blessed him with words and rhythmic movements, telling him again not to go. But, as he had told them time and time again, this was his destiny. The National Geographic World Photo Contest deadline was soon approaching and he was determined to win. That prize, he reminded the villagers, was his destiny!

            The villagers liked Dan. As far as foreign photographers and journalists go, he was keenly aware of his outsider status. Although he stumbled through a few things, he did his best to follow the lead of others around him and ask questions when he wasn’t sure what customs he might be intruding upon.

            Saddled with camera equipment, including his two brand new telephoto lenses, he stepped purposefully down the narrow dirt trail, into the jungle. Shadows from the trees and vines and bushes around him comforted his mind, as he thought about all of the small creatures hidden in them, perfect for a leopard to eat. A human, he figured, would be all skin and bones compared to one of the other tasty morsel species of the jungle.

            Eventually, a Colobus monkey caught Dan’s eye and he spent the morning looking for the perfect angle and waiting for a captivating motion from the black and white primate, with feathery side-fur reminiscent of wings. After filling a perfect frame with jungle and monkey, Dan moved over to clear spot and pulled out his lunch. He watched the monkey perk up and streak away into the forest.

            Suddenly, the air around him seemed exceptionally still. Not a single breeze moved the air. A nano-second of silence descended like a fog as Dan instinctually brought his camera to his eye squeezed the shutter. Before the echo of the click was gone, he felt something like the force of a softball thrown directly into his neck, followed by… a loss of all the senses. Feel, touch, smell, sight. – all gone. Not even the taste of blood in his mouth was there.

            When Dan didn’t return to the village, a small group of people started up the trail. They rattled and shook dried fruits and stomped their feet and sang, making as much noise as they could. They walked as a team, keeping watch in all directions around them.

            When they saw a new telephoto lens resting against a rock and then a camera in the mud, they knew. They looked up into the trees, noticing the millions of shades of green in the leaves and high up in the branches. Hidden in the forage, they also spotted a leopards’ stash. When they returned to the village, their story would include a set of glowing, yellow eyes.

            To honor their friend, they pulled out Dan’s film and developed his photos. There were dozens of beautiful shots of a grand Colobus Monkey – and the villagers knew that Dan had found his destiny. The very last image looked straight through pointed, white teeth, and down the throat of a black-spotted jungle cat.

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