Not your average travel blog
A little further along, in clear sight above our path is a body of a jennet with its throat ripped out. With claw marks down its rib cage, there’s aren’t too many predators that would kill and more importantly, store its prey in this way; a leopard being the main culprit. It has likely been dead (or near death) for more than a day, but it has been hung here very recently.
The spur nearby seems a bit small for a leopard and the only two other possible candidates would be a serval or the rare caracal – neither of which are famous for putting their kills up trees. It’s fairly conclusive evidence, and along with the scrapings on the base of the trees we saw a couple of days ago (distinctive claw-sharpening methods), there are leopard in this valley. Sherlocking around, we’ve seen plenty of reasons to suspect bush pig and other small mammals are enjoying their surroundings. Leopard, it seems, are hunting successfully and are the king in this part of the jungle. I recently mentioned a silencing purr which occurred in the middle of night, making all wildlife quiet during some interrupted sleep, but due to the hallucinogenic dreamscape I was encountering with some troubling atmospheric temperatures and my ears plugged up, I’m not wholeheartedly reliant on the midnight growl. My mind could have been confused with a nearby serval, a heavily-breathing ape, or it could have even been the Frenchman’s stomach. Now though, a roughed-up, disembowelled jennet with a Chelsea smile in it’s ribcage, hung with a deathly stare across it’s lifeless face, is undeniably the work of a lethal and agile predator. Stalking these forests, it’s comforting news. With numerous cave dwellings that we found where it’s impossible to imagine anything but a big cat relaxing with it’s young, this wild isn’t lacking.
I won’t go into the bushcraft of such a fire, but lighting one isn’t always an easy task. I have been around the world where it’s cold and wet, where the material can be damp and soggy and often not even exist. Here though, in this rather dry environment, hatching a few flames isn’t a chore; it’s a hazard. Obviously don’t go lighting any old twig when you’re in the bush. It an important process to make sure both you and your surroundings are safe. Catch the wrong leaf and you could find yourself in the middle of an overwhelming bush fire. Our rather smokeless flames will soon be our stove. If we were cold, we would have our lifeline through the night. However in this environment, we burn as little as possible, and back ourselves away from the kitchen. It’s hotter than the inside of a chicken kiev straight from the oven!