My stare-down with an ocelot
As an intern at Un poco del Chocó, every Monday it’s my task to walk through the rainforest to check and exchange various camera traps. And so it was last week, when I was cheerfully and unhurriedly wandering along the different trails. While I was on the red trail going down towards the river, something suddenly scurried in front of me. It was balancing on a tree trunk that had fallen across a small ravine, then it disappeared on the opposite side of the trunk. I couldn’t believe my eyes: it was an ocelot. First it was hiding behind the trunk, however then it carefully looked into my direction and spotted me. I stood still for several minutes while we both didn’t lose eye contact with each other. The ocelot then slowly climbed onto the treetop of the neighboring tree. There it disappeared out of my view, so I decided to leave and continue my work.
At the end of the red trail I had to change a camera trap. Therefore, I had the idea to take this camera and place it near the spot where I saw the ocelot, so maybe we could get some spectacular shots of it. As I approached the spot, I unexpectedly saw the ocelot again. It had made itself comfortable on the fallen tree trunk over the ravine and was sleeping there. When the wild animal noticed me, it opened its eyes and stared at me. It somehow was not shocked at all by my presence. I was surprised, because yet again we looked into each other's eyes for quite long. As the ocelot didn’t move, after a while I felt it was time for me to leave. I set off again to continue my work and exchange more camera traps. I could feel my heart beating, there was so much adrenaline in my blood. The whole encounter made me so confused that I ran all over the rainforest and missed the spots of the camera traps again and again. I probably went up and down the trail several times. It took considerably longer than usual, but gladly I made it back in time for lunch. Unfortunately, all the pictures I took are a little bit blurry, my hands were shaking too much of all the excitement.
It was an indescribably beautiful moment; the ocelot was lying less than 10 meters away from me on the tree trunk. The way it looked at me, and showed no fear at all, was just extraordinary. I have the feeling that the ocelot noticed at our first meeting that I am completely harmless and that’s why I got to share this experience with it. I think I was incredibly lucky. Though my encounters with animals when walking the trails completely on my own and also the interesting things we found on the camera traps, have showed me that the rainforest is full of life and wildlife. You just have to get lucky sometimes!