King of the Jungle


By David Madrid

        The Jaguar was blessed with speed, intelligence and good looks. He was a magnificent creature sporting distinctive black spots against the yellow backdrop of his hide.

        His name was Bahlam. He was regal. He was the king of the jungle. The South American jungle. The jungle of the Amazon. The jungle of the Mayans.

        Bahlam ruled the dense, unforgiving rain forest that stretched for miles. Every inch was his domain. Only an entity with his strength could rule such a wild place.

        One day, the jaguar climbed high into the trees, where he hunted primates. He hoped to find a howler monkey, the loudest and most challenging prey the trees offered.

        As the predator focused on the leaves around him, he sensed movement below. It was a tapir, Bahlam’s favorite food. The cat abandoned the monkey-hunt and stalked the careless pig-like animal who was oblivious of danger.

        Moli, which was the tapir’s name, thought of his life, which had not turned out as he hoped. He was unsatisfied. Surely there was more to life than grazing and sleeping.

        Bahlam saw his opportunity ahead in the dim forest. He raced along the branches effortlessly leaping from tree to tree. He found his spot, climbed down and hid in the think underbrush to await the tapir.

        The cat became one with the vegetation, which ensured the tapir would not see him. He prepared to pounce.

        Suddenly, as if from nowhere, an anaconda overwhelmed the tapir. If you don’t know, the anaconda is the largest snake in the world. Those who say the reticulated python is bigger never measured this beast.

        The serpent curled his massive 30-foot body around the unlucky mammal. For Moli, the unthinkable had happened. Grazing seemed the least of his problems now as he felt his breath being forced from his body.

        The king of the jungle was incensed. How dare the snake snatch a feast from the king’s table.

        The fearless feline jumped on the gigantic snake head and sunk his sharp claws and deadly fangs into the tough snake skin.

        The jaguar’s bite is legendary. Of all the big cats, pound for pound, the jaguar’s bite is the strongest. At 4 feet long, the jaguar is the third largest cat in the world and the biggest cat in the Americas.

        The anaconda unwrapped itself from the tapir so fast he caught Bahlam off guard. The snake flung Moli across the clearing, now solely concerned with the pain on his head.

        The anaconda is an unpredictable opponent. Were it not for the extraordinary agility of the king of the jungle, the snake would have had him for dinner.

        The lucky tapir sped off into the undergrowth as fast as his little legs could carry his watermelon body. The tapir learned a valuable lesson, and that was not to walk openly and carefree in the dangerous jungle.

        From now on, he would be elusive. He would be aware.

        Meanwhile, mammoth jaws with jagged inwardly-slanted teeth snapped shut an inch from the jaguar’s face. Bahlam could see the teeth would render an escape from the mouth impossible.

        The nimble cat jumped onto the snake’s back and sunk his claws and fangs again.

        The reptile rolled in an attempt to trap the jaguar beneath the 600-pound muscle that was the serpent’s body.

        Bahlam jumped off the snake, and the combatants faced off. They breathed hard as each tried to stare his opponent down.

        The cat, focused on the snake’s hypnotic eyes, didn’t notice the green and yellow tail circling in a wide arc behind him. Before he could react, Bahlam was caught in the lethal coils.

        “You call yourself the king of the jungle?” the giant snake scoffed, his face inches from Bahlam’ face. “I, the mighty anaconda, will show you who the true king of the jungle is. I am the king of the Amazon, not you. You are a pretender.”

        Bahlam felt his life slowly being squeezed from his body. With every breath he took, the coils tightened. How could this happen to the most fearsome cat in the world?

        It was then the jungle came alive with the sound of hooves.

        Bahlam, almost unconscious, had no idea what was happening, but when he felt the snake loosen his grip, he spun and attacked the anaconda tearing with both his fangs and claws as he fought for his life.

        The snake let go and fled with an enraged jaguar on his back and the hooves of a hundred tapirs relentlessly stomping its body and head.

        The snake made it to Amazon River. In these waters he was the most formidable killer. Or so he thought.

        Bahlam jumped off the snake. Although the cat was an excellent swimmer and hunted the waters for caymen, he knew better than to battle the beast in the water, where the snake had the advantage.

        It wasn’t long before a thousand hungry piranha smelled the anaconda’s blood in the water and swarmed. Within two hours, nothing was left of the snake but a skeleton.

        The king was shocked that the tapir, his favorite prey, saved his life.

        “Why did you save me?” a puzzled Bahlam asked.

        Moli came forward and said, “Because you saved my life our king. I hid, but then I saw you needed our help, so I raised an army to help you.”

        “But you are my prey,” the jaguar said. “Do you not fear me?”

        “We fear the nasty anaconda more than you,” Moli said. “He cannot be allowed to become the king of the jungle. With you, death is instant.

        “The snake hides among the weeds, the swamps and the rivers and drags us into the water and drowns us as he squeezes. It is an undignified death? We prefer a swift break of the neck by you to suffocation by that scaly killer.”

        The king of the jungle was shamed before the tapirs. These rotund beasts were truly worthy subjects. The jaguar king considered the animals with new appreciation.

        From that day the king defended his weak and helpless subjects and hunted those who preyed upon them, including the anacondas.

        When he hunted the massive serpent, he brought his backup, a herd of fierce tapirs led by Moli, their general, who was skilled in stealth.

        Moli finally found his calling, and he became the king’s most trusted advisor and best friend.

Moral: A true leader protects his weakest subjects from the strong who prey upon them.

The End

© 2016

Contact: David Madrid