Great Jungle Cat
|Great Jungle Cat|
|Official Name||Great Jungle Cat|
|Common Nicknames||Jungle Stalker|
These large prowling cats—native only to the jungles of Daen—are responsible for a large number of deaths of Altalar and Daen wildlife. They are the bane of travelers, as their immense size and climbing prowess make them a hazard to even the most wary of explorers. A nuisance to the Nelfin and Ailor alike, the Great Jungle Cat has been known to fearlessly bound into settlements in the dark of the night, looking for whatever prey they can find. Many fear or loathe these prowling beasts.
Records of the Great Jungle Cat trace back to the Allorn Empire, as well as early Eronidas settlements, both of which had admired or feared the beasts for its abilities. The Altalar had made it a common policy to avoid the dangerous Jungle Stalker, even clearing wide pathways through jungles for travelers, though these would fail to meet their purpose of keeping them safe, backfiring as the paths led the cats to settlements full of wildlife and prey. For a time, the cat was mistaken for its distant relative, the Black Pathor, as both of them shared an ebony coat and feline traits. The Altalar could not witness the distinctions as within seconds of the first encounter the Jungle Cat would maul the onlooker or the Pathor would quickly bound off. When the variances were recognized, the Black Pathor would become a symbol of Elven power as a domesticated animal, while its relative the Great Jungle Cat would remain despised and feared by Altalar communities. The Great Jungle Cat made a large portion of Daen plainly unsafe to travel without a large or skilled escort, their only bane being the Eronidas who were less than careful with their habitat, slowly destroying the jungles that bordered the tribelands. This became even more apparent with Ailor settlements already having been mostly rid of jungle. The Great Jungle Cat is confined to a far smaller space than it once was, and consequently its population has begun to drastically decline. This is not to say that they are uncommon; while even nearing the grounds of a jungle, one is more likely than not to encounter these deadly beasts.
The Great Jungle Cat is a large cat, able to grow up to six feet tall and eight feet long, weighing anywhere between 350 to 450 pounds. Their heads are large, with two sharp blade-like fangs hanging from the top of their maw, and their wide jaws have evolved in such a way that they cannot fully close their mouths, lest they puncture their gums. This is the primary contrast between it’s relative, the Black Pathor, and itself. These fangs roughly span the length from the tip of a man’s index finger to the base of his palm, large enough that they can be repurposed into knives and spear-tips. Their ears are small, their snouts are black with thin white whiskers and their eyes are orange or yellow. The remainder of their bodies are tightly-corded muscles, with four strong legs and large paws with dull grey claws. Their tails are shorter than most other cats’, but much more controlled by the Jungle Cat, giving hard swings and twisting should it be irritated. Their entire bodies are covered in a coat of dark, dark purple fur that appears black except under certain illuminations.
The Jungle Stalker is unique to Daen, surviving as one of the apex predators within the deep jungles. The population is spread out from Hyarra to Lusits, though as a solitary animal there tend to be small pockets of Jungle Cats found in the more heavily forested areas, where the predators can make their dens.
Life Span and Development
Juvenile Great Jungle Cats grow at an extremely quick pace, taking three years to reach full size. However, this comes at no small price, and the ravenous creatures spend most of the first three years of their life eating constantly. Overall, a Jungle Cat tends to live for about thirty years. As the Great Jungle Cat ages, its fangs blunt, its fur begins fading white, and due to a genetic degenerative problem with their spines, they become far less sprightly. For this reason, the Great Jungle Cat rarely exceeds thirty years of age, by which point it has probably degenerated to a point where its prey can overcome it.
Opportunistic creatures, the Great Jungle Cat is known for its indiscriminate palate. It stalks any creature that seems to be moving and is loud enough to alert them of their presence. A Jungle Cat is a vicious and violent creature who takes great pleasure in hunting prey, though they are purely nocturnal, stalking the night, as their jet-black fur makes them extremely visible in the pallet of browns and greens of the rainforest. The Jungle Cat also has a very distinct way of dispatching prey, using a hard disorienting swipe from their powerful clawed paws, followed by relentless lacerations to the extremities with its fangs. Despite their wild and hostile demeanours, there are a few rare occasions when Jungle Cat cubs, stolen at birth, have been successfully raised and tamed by their owners. Such a feat is extraordinarily difficult though, and the cubs require constant attention from a motherly figure who can feed them regularly. If this requirement is not fulfilled, the cubs will turn on their owner. Even if taming is successful from such a young age, it is not uncommon for some Jungle Cat pets to lose interest in their owners and attack them when they have grown older, and more independent.
Territory and Groupings
The Great Jungle Cats are incredibly solitary, and usually kill their brethren if they so much as set paw within a certain radius around their den. On the occasion that they do relent and the two specimens are a suitable match, they mate, after which point roughly six kittens will gestate for about ten months. The semi-arboreal beasts have been known to drag corpses for miles away from their dens before consuming them so as not to attract competing predators into their range.
A Jungle Cat’s territory usually consists of a large patch of dense, wooded jungle, within which they make their den and hunting grounds. The den will more often than not be central in this territory, and most Jungle Stalkers prefer caves or large hollows to nest within. Normally one can easily identify a Great Jungle Cat’s territory by the carcasses found in the center, and the odd, placid silence which hangs over the grounds. Some hunters have reported that a Jungle Cat territory seems entirely devoid of life.
- Being a fearsome and powerful sight, these creatures are featured heavily in Elven culture and mythology as creatures of savagery.
- It was once a common manhood ritual in several Polon for Eronidas in and around Daen jungles to slay one of these cats, entering the ranges of these beasts equipped with nothing but their bare hands for a grapple to the death. Very few Humans have accomplished the task, the most noted being Tristan Kade.