Increased poaching activities in the wild life reserve had raised a concern among the rangers and rescuers of the Yellow Diamond National Park. Jones, the Chief Forest Officer, had already started covering extended area for routine aerial surveillance. He had also assigned additional patrolling parties to clench the grip over poachers and trespassers. Despite taking stringent actions the poachers were away from their reach.
It was a bright sunny day with mild breeze wafting through the orchid trees. Jones looked at his watch; it was time to go for the aerial visit. He prepared his backpack for the flight and receded towards the base that was hardly few yards away from his camp. A team at the base had just finished the essential routine check of the aircraft before arrival of Jones. After giving a cursory look to the checklist he got in to the Cessna light aircraft to initiate the take off. Minutes after the take off the airplane rose to an altitude of 2000 square feet. Flying over the core area of the National Park he tried to locate signs of any dubious activities but there were hardly any.
Not having found any trace of poachers he raised to a higher altitude. The aircraft was seamlessly pervading the sheer tranquil of the jungle. His absolute contentment came to a halt when a massive jolt shook the aircraft. The unexpected malfunction bamboozled him as he could not decipher the cause. But he soon interpreted; it was an engine breakdown. The plane swung like an uncontrollable machine. Sweat beads surfaced his body that made it difficult for him to handle the situation.
He informed the base immediately about the crash that was about to happen. With a shutdown engine trying a crash-landing would have been an insane choice. Leaving the plane was the only option left; so he pushed the emergency exit button that propelled him out from the cockpit. He immediately pulled out his parachute and sighed in a relief. He gazed at the swaying plane heading towards ground leaving the furious strokes of fumes behind. Moments later the plane smashed the ground and an explosion shattered it into pieces.
With his parachute he tried to land safely but a strong gust of wind drifted him towards a dense grove and unfortunately he landed amidst top of dense tress. His parachute entangled within the thorny branches of the tree and he left suspended almost fifteen feet above the ground. He pulled out his knife from the scabbard tied along his flank and cut the ropes of the parachute over his shoulders to set him free. With a little effort he came to the ground safely.
He brushed away the dust from his clothes and rose to his feet to move in search of rescue the team. After walking down few yards he heard a familiar growl that left him dumbstruck. Standing still and silent he rolled his eyes around to spot the origin. After few moments of absolute hush the growl busted once again. An impulse of fear dashed into his nerves hearing the dreaded roar. He turned aside and scanned the area scrupulously to discover the source. He stood aback to spot the tiger; ambush behind the elongated blades.
Intense fear rolled through his spine, his eyes open wide, lines of sweat trickled down from his temple and his heart pounded to perceive the intensity of impending danger, the fear of death hovered in front of his eyes. After an escape from the sky-fall his life was again in a perilous situation. Running away from there was not at all an amicable thought as he knew about the chasing ability of the tiger, he could not beat or compete it.
He did not remove his eyes from the beast. The tiger’s demeanor gestured him like an impending attack; he clenched the knife in his fist and bowed down a little to defend the attack. The tiger growled at him but to his surprise it did not jump. Something was wrong, Jones contemplated. He tried to figure out the situation that immobilized the tiger. With the apt caution he moved towards the tiger to reveal the cause. The scene ahead slipped the ground beneath his feet. He remained stunned to see the tiger, he was trapped.
It was time for fervent action; he had to rescue the tiger before his own. Shall he move and look around for a patrolling team for rescue? He questioned himself; no he said himself and immediately discarded the thought. But how could he alone release the tiger? No it was not possible; he required a rescue team to accomplish the task. Time was slipping from his hands and probably poachers would have been approaching to the site. He was short of time and manpower as well. He had to decide quickly. At last he decided to move.
While walking past the core area he stood at a point to make out the way he had to follow. Pondering about the proximity of rangers patrolling in the reserve, he heard crunching of leaves that pulled his attention. Something was approaching towards him from the elongated blades but he could not decipher. Was it another tiger? Terror sprinted through his nerves. No, it could not be a tiger, he convinced himself, as the moves did not seem of a tiger. He held his breath and obscured himself behind a tree waiting for the mystery to get resolved. He clenched the knife in his fist and peeped from behind the tree. His suspicion turned real to see a poacher emerging from the blades carrying a rifle over his shoulder. He was set aback to see the damn poacher who had come to kill the tiger.
Desperate fury outraged his fear. As a Chief Forest Officer he could not see a tiger being killed in front of him. He was supposed to protect and rescue the tiger by any means. He followed the poacher till the end without disclosing his presence.
After reaching the site where tiger was trapped the poacher stood amidst some distance, he pulled off the rifle from his shoulder and aimed at the tiger’s head. The fearsome tiger growled at him but the trap had restrained the potency of the wild cat. The poacher grinned at the helpless tiger for a while and the furious rage in his eyes swiped the grin the next moment. He tilted his neck, closed his one eye to target and placed his finger to pull the trigger. It was all set. The time stood still for a second, intense silence sealed the vicinity of the jungle. A shrill clatter of the gunshot curbed the hush as he pulled the trigger.
A callous roar of the tiger busted in the wild life reserve followed by the clamor of other animals and birds. Just one shot and it was all over. Jones bravely blew the muzzle of his pistol. The bullet pierced the tempura of the poacher; within fraction of seconds his soul left to the heavenly adobe and his limp body fell on the ground. His heart was still thumping, pushing enormous amount of blood to the veins. A stream of blood spurted out from his temple that spread on the ground around his head. But his job was not over yet. The tiger was yet to be rescued. Assuming the tiger being dead there was possibility of accomplices of poacher to reach there.
Jones was still left in enigma after killing the poacher. He had no choice respite releasing the tiger, but it was not possible to complete the task alone as precious time was ticking away. He ransacked his backpack to look something that could help him save the tiger and set him free. A gleam appeared on his face having seen a sedative and a dart. But without a tranquilizing gun it was useless and even the dose was also not enough to sedate the tiger.
His nerves congested with myriad ideas sprouting in his brain. Brilliant he said himself and rose to his feet to pull a tensile branch from a tree to make bow and arrow. He tied the two ends of a stem with the leftover rope of the parachute drooping to his backpack. He filled the dart and tied it to the one end of the arrow and that completed his weapon. He was ready to fire the dart. He narrowed the distance between him and the tiger. He clenched the bow in left hand, adjusted the arrow on the string with his right hand and pulled the string firmly to build the tension. He aimed arrow towards the tiger and finally released it. The arrow swung in air following a parabolic projectile and hit the rear leg of the tiger. The dart injected the tranquilizer into the tiger’s body; Jones made it a perfect shot.
He desperately waited for the drug to release its effect. Unfortunately the diminutive doze proved inadequate to sedate the tiger thoroughly. Each passing minute was adding up to his woes. His heart was thumping hard and infusing more blood into the nerves that turned it into an assembly line where thoughts were emerging one after another.
Fighting back his enigma he finally decided to release the tiger alone. The tiger was little drowsy but not unconscious. To ward off the possible threat of attack; he took the body of the poacher and threw him in front of the tiger. The starving tiger mauled over the dead poacher and ripped off the flesh with his deadly jaws. Jones immediately paced up and towards the back where the trap was laid. He lay on the ground masquerading behind the bushes looking for the apt moment. The tiger was still tearing the flesh; Jones could hear the crackling of bones. He took out the cutter and tugged it harmlessly into the trap. The tiger growled in pain and he left the cutter in haste and fear. After the pain settled he drew his hands towards the cutter that was still tugged in. He held the cutter and clamped the tool firmly. With a tuck sound the cutter slit the cable apart and the tiger was set free.
Jones could not believe his eyes; he was lay behind a giant tiger, rather alive tiger that was not trapped. He lay still, while holding his breath he gazed at the soporific tiger that was still struggling tearing off the body of the poacher. Having found the appropriate opportunity he slid himself very-very slowly pulling him away from the tiger, very cautiously and steadily. After moving himself away from the tiger to a certain distance, confirming out of the danger zone, he got up silently and walked away in search of patrolling troops for his own rescue and to wipe out the presence of poachers from the national park.
— End —