The Wandering Hunter

4 min

On a regular day, I can run the fastest. But on a day like this, with no food and water…oh, my legs hurt…my stomach’s hurting too. Climbing down the hill wasn’t difficult. The slope let me feel as if someone is giving me a push from behind. I came down quick, I guess. But this plain land seems rather tough to cross. But do I need to cross? Am I going in the right direction? Did I have to climb down the hill in the first place? …ughhh why do I feel so confused all of a sudden? Am I hallucinating? Maybe I am…

Looks like I have lost my way already…The jungle is getting thinner and thinner…Oh, wait, why can’t I see any trees anymore? Just few bushes here and there…Have I crossed the jungle already? This looks so different now….so much of open space…the ground is bare…red soil…no grass…so different than what we have back home…ughhh…why did it have to be this hot today? How long have I been wandering? Didn’t I start just before the sunrise…and now it’s almost on the top of my head. Oh, this scorching sun and the barren lands…where can I find a river, a little stream, a pond maybe…any water body will do…just a few drops of water…my throat is getting so dry….

Oh, my little ones…left behind at home…they must be hungry too…poor guys, must be crying waiting for me…who knew hunting for food will take so long today!

Now what’s that?…A road?…Maybe I should cross the road…maybe I am wandering on the wrong side…maybe home is on the opposite side of it….

What’s this noise? Ahh…some two-legged creatures. Have I wandered into their territory? If that’s the case, then I am in for some big-big trouble!!! Hmmm…so it does look like I have entered the wrong zone.

These two-legged animals, these intelligent ones who can talk, they don’t want us with them. Understood. But neither do they let us live where we should. Selfish creatures, they can go on destroying everything for their own interests. Few days ago, few of them barged into our territory and cut down hundreds of trees. If they continue to do so, where will we go?

Oh, this place doesn’t look familiar. These structures, giant ones standing on the ground…their shelter? Why is that two-legged little one running away from me? Wow…one of them is wearing something that looks just like my skin! Looks like they like our spots…copycats LOL…What are these noises? Why are they all running away from me? Yeah, of course. I am not one of them. Are they scared of me? But shouldn’t it be the other way around? Am I not the one who should be scared instead? I think they are dangerous, not me. I mean, what is so brave about killing someone defenseless when he is sauntering in his home, peacefully? Few days ago, some of them killed one of my fellow mates, in the forest.

Well, we do kill too. But never for pleasure or for some unnecessary selfish interests, unlike them. We kill because we need to. How do we survive if we sympathize with the bunnies, deers, goats and dogs? What do we eat then? They are the only kind of food we can feed and survive on. By the way, they eat them too. I have seen it myself. It was not too long ago when a few of them had come to the forest and stayed overnight. I was passing by their temporary settlement when I saw a wild goat hanging on the fire, getting roasted. Fire…now that scares me. So, I had to pass by. Quietly. Without getting noticed.

Contrary to what they might like to think, we don’t go killing them unless we are disturbed or attacked.

Hmmm lost in thoughts I have marched further…. quite a long way by now…but where am I headed now? I see more and more of the two-legged creatures. They are all running away. Well, I didn’t mean to bring about this chaos. I didn’t mean to scare them. I didn’t even roar. How do I make them understand that I am not here to harm them? I am only straying because I am lost. If only any one of them could guide me back home. The home that they are gradually destroying. The home that now seems to not have enough for us to sustain. Our sources of food are depleting. Our streams are drying up. With lesser number of trees, the temperatures are going up and up…

Ohh…why are they coming towards me? I can’t decipher these noises. What are they trying to say? I somehow feel that the vibes coming from this place are not so good. I see signs of danger everywhere. What am I getting into?

Should I run? Maybe I should. No…are they trying to capture me? What is this thing they are pointing at me?

Ahhhhhh….it hurts…what is it that just pierced my skin….oh this sharp little object has gone deep under my skin…why does it seem like everything is hazy…like I can’t hear anything…the noises are fading….my limbs are getting numb….oh, I cant even move my tail…my claws seem to be powerless…everything is fainting…or am I fainting…I don’t seem to feel anything clearly….my wife is waiting…my hungry kids are waiting…I just want to go back home….are they taking me home…somebody please tell them to send me home.


Oh, so how did I get back here? I somehow can’t recall what happened after I fainted. It’s as if I had blacked out! But who cares…I am back with Mrs. Leopard and our cubs. Home, sweet home. East or west, family is the best!… And looks like dearest wifey has taken good care of the kids in my absence. Oh, how I have missed them…Hmmm…. So, what do we have for dinner tonight? Let’s see….one big rabbit and a few rodents. Now that looks like a delicious meal. Bon Appetit!

Oh, that was a satisfied deep chorus roar that echoed through the jungle…Time for bed now.


Author’s Note:

This story is inspired from the recent incident of a leopard prowling in a Thane Colony. It spent a few hours taking in the sights, including a mall and a hotel, before being cornered and tranquilized. The latest update is that it has been released back into the Sanjay Gandhi National Park with a ‘passive identification’ chip implanted into its tail. The chip will help forest officials to track it if it exits the forest again.

With increased human population and encroachment of their territories by huge construction projects, and the decrease in the population of herbivorous animals due to shortage of grasslands, the incidents of leopards straying away from the forests in search of food has become much more frequent in the recent years.


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Sudeepta Mohapatra
Sudeepta is a budding writer, passionate reader, wanderer, dreamer, seeker and a cinephile.
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