Emil's Encounter With a Jaguar
Living with Jaguars
By Emil Flota
Mr. Flota was born in the village of San Lazaro in the Orange Walk District of northern Belize. He works at Chan Chich Lodge in Gallon Jug, which is situated in a protected private forest that has one of the highest densities of jaguars in the world. He is the bartender and horse rangler for the Lodge. Mr. Flota related this story to Jacalyn Willis, a biologist working in the tropics and at the Lodge. She wrote down his story as he told it.
He looked me over with golden eyes, carefully and curiously, with his ears pricked forward. We stood that way for several long minutes. Casually he glanced to the forest, and seemed to lose interest in me. Then he turned around again and headed up the road, taking one last glance at me before leaving me behind, still shaking but breathing more easily.
A face-to-face encounter like this one is not very common, so I consider myself very fortunate. His appearance is distinctive because he has a short tail. He is not the only male jaguar in the area, so he does a lot of marking and moving about. This particular jaguar has appeared on the photos from the Lodge’s camera-traps set by Jacalyn and Gregory Willis and the staff of the lodge. He has appeared in many sequences of photos mating with a small female, as well as patrolling his territory that we live within. We at Chan Chich consider ourselves lucky to be guests in his territory.