Eye to Eye With A Black Panther
It appears that Casey's former guide, Diego from Brazil, has joined him once again. However, as Casey writes this blog, Diego has traveled back to his Brazilian border home to drop off money and renew his visa.
Casey said he is now a few weeks walk/swim away from Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. In addition to armed drug gangs, robbery and hunger, events alluded to in our previous post, Casey has mentioned other interesting recent happenings. He said that some of the communities they have crossed were 'wild west' and that there was also a former 'leprosy' community. He also explained how the two of them had to navigate around cocaine plantations, a place where there is obviously potential for violent or deadly interaction with drug gangs. Casey informs us that further information about some of these encounters will be in an upcoming post.
Next, Casey explained that often people in the communities caution about the dangers of camping in the Amazon wild. The most common fear seems to be about jaguar (any large cat, including panthers, is referred to by the local people as a 'jaguar'), anaconda, venomous snakes and black caiman (a type of South American alligator). However, Casey believes that the biggest dangers are most likely being hit by falling trees, dangers from fast-flowing flooded rivers, a chance interaction with dangerous people (i.e. drug gangs) or being infected by mosquito-borne diseases.
With the caveat of this perspective, Casey details us on his interaction with what he believed to be a deadly black panther. In his latest blog post, he goes into colorful detail as to how the event unfolded.
Basically, first, he was awoken in his hammock by a tug on the ropes, followed by sniffing that could only be from a very large animal. All the while realizing the potential of a gruesome but swift death from a 250lb predator cat, he reached for his headlamp, rolled around and turned it on. Startled, the animal darted off. But as he shined his light into the jungle he saw the eyes of a large predator staring back at him.