The Fish Story

Tide Turned on Killer Cats; 750 MPH ‘Hyperlooping’ to the Shore?

By JAY MANN | Feb 13, 2019

How about the Colorado man, out for a leisurely run in mountain country, being put upon by a young and rambunctious cougar? This wasn’t just a cougarly love-tap, or merely a territoriality message. It was a deadly predator v. prey takedown, replete with slashing claws and jugular-seeking bites. This big cat was on a spleen-seeking mission. They love spleens for some dang reason. While the mountain lion viewed the jogger as a munchie on the hoof, this bipedal meal bit back, so to speak.

As one would expect, the stealthy cat easily got the initial upper claw/hand, quickly inflicting ER-grade damages to the runner’s body. However, what followed incited both a worldwide news buzz and growingly heated response from always-ravenous animal-lovers.

Here’s the blow-by-blow account: At the life-and-death peak of the attack, and losing blood rather badly, the cougar-draped runner decided he just wasn’t ready to be any feline’s fast-food. In a tide-turning reversal straight out of World Federation Wrestling, he swung around and took the cat’s back, per grappling jargon. He then applied a humans-only rear-naked choke. If you’re not into mixed martial arts, that’s when a combatant gets behind the opponent and buries an arm bar across an opponent’s neck – then applies bicep-driven pressure onto the jugular area. Running on adrenaline, the man applied the car-lifting strength of such a rush. The jiujitsu-like move saved the day … for the man, that is. The cougar, on the other hand, soon had everything go black … before spiriting off to those big-cat hunting grounds in the sky. Yep, the cat blew all nine lives at once.

As the tale reached worldwide news wires, many folks admired the man for conquering those landlocked jaws of death. Then, the wails of feline fanatics and animal-rightists filled the air. Early squawks ran, “He shouldn’t have been jogging there” and “The poor animal probably had young to feed.” Another common reaction was, “He didn’t need to keep suffocating the poor animal until it was dead.”

Oh, really? Maybe he should have loosened his chokehold when the cougar tapped out – or at least have whispered in its ear, “Say ‘Uncle.’”

OK, so even I felt a bit bad for the kid cougar, until I read that, in just the past 15 years or so, Colorado has seen three people killed and 16 others injured by cougars. If sharks were racking up those numbers in Jersey…?

BIG CATS WON’T QUIT: In researching fatalities from big cat attacks – with Colorado cougars in tow – I came upon a monumental buzz over the killing of a female tiger, which had singly killed at least 13 people in India. Even by India’s love-your-animal standards, that was unacceptable behavior, regardless of the possibility the cat might be the understandable reincarnation of someone’s mother-in-law.

After her umpteenth homicide, the six-year-old female tigress went on the lam, managing to sidestep what grew into a veritable militia of heavily-armed Indian forest guards and police officers, hunting her for years, day and night. The pursuers dubbed the tigress T-1, i.e. Top tiger target.

At the peak of search, nonstop surveillance was done from treetop platforms, while over 100 trail cameras were installed along strategic jungle paths. As frustration built, the find-the-tiger forces literally bulldozed huge sections of tall bush. The epitome of the hunt came when movie buffs suggested using elephants mounted by sharpshooters, just like in old safari movies. That plan lasted about as long as a rerun of “Life of Pi.” Seems the elephants were hastily decommissioned after one of them accidentally crushed an underfoot villager.

The thousand-man hunt was soon being seen by certain folks as a heroic, almost spiritual elusiveness of the tigress. The likes of animal rights activists tenderly named her “Avni,” which means “The Earth” in Hindi. And it did seem she could vanish into the earth.

Eventually, Save-the-Avni protests got so uproarious that the killing intent of the hunt reached the Supreme Court of India. Semi-siding with the protesters, India’s highest court ruled that T-1/Avni, when finally tracked down, should be shot with tranquilizers. There was one small addendum to the ruling, targeting what could be done if the animal shook off tranquilizing efforts … and attacked. Sure enough, that addendum reared up. When finally spooked out near her favorite buffet-like human pathway, T-1 did attack her attackers, despite being hit with a tranquilizing dart. Bye-bye, T-1.

The reaction to the kill was sheer relief for the local people – and a return to a peaceful lifestyle. The animal righthanders went utterly ballistic. Violent protests ensued. “Man-eaters have rights, too!”

The man with the tiger-quick trigger, sharpshooter Asgar Ali Khan, publicly defended his actions. He told the Telegraph, “There was no doubt that human lives were in danger. There was a market day and the tiger was just on a road that people use and children cycle on, so we had to get there.” Ali Khan added some animal behavior insights by noting, “She had tasted human flesh and saw us like monkeys, or goats, or other prey. So when she charged at us I had to shoot in self-defense.”

This fell on deaf ears, even among certain high-ranking government officials. “I am deeply saddened by the way tigress Avni has been brutally murdered. I am definitely going to take up this case of utter lack of empathy for animals as a test case. Legally, criminally as well as politically,” tweeted Maneka Gandhi, India’s minister for women and child development.

This stance was a tad odd to many, because the prime targets of the tiger’s attacks were women and children. What would Maneka’s Uncle Mahatma have said?

As with anything I research, some weird angle or another jumps out of the bushes. No exception with the “murder” of Avni – and the possible trial of Asgar Ali Khan. In reading about the extreme measures the militia used when seeking T-1, I went into my patented WTF mode upon reading the prime attractant being used to woo the killer tiger – and possibly leading to her demise – was Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein. I’m serious as sin. Seems the odorous stuff contains a pheromone called civetone, proven to attract big cats. Who woulda thunk it?

Now, I’m compelled to research the use of secret chemical pheromones in colognes. How can that not be flagrantly sexist – you know, unfairly enticing women? I can already picture a dorky man being dragged into court, accused of covertly and successfully attracting women by drenching himself in Obsession for Men. At trial:

Madam Judge: “Mr. Prekles, I find your courtship tactics disgusting and an affront to all womenhood.”

Mr. Prekles: “Your honor … Might I approach the bench, please?”

Madam Judge: “Yes, you may. But there’s nothing you can say that … Oh, Mr. Prekles, come to mamma!”

CHANGING GEARS: I’m awaiting hyperloops reaching the shore – traveling fast enough to go from Philly to Manahawkin in nothing flat.

Hyperloops are a form of futuristic transportation, being heavily endorsed by Elon Musk of Tesla fame.

Envision a largish tube going from here to there. The tube is large enough to tightly contain modules for seating a single passenger or even large numbers of humans. Now, remove all air from the tube, thusly reducing the air resistance to zero. Not to worry, the humans are encapsulated within comfortable controlled environs, like on jets. Now propel the peopled capsules forward with pressurized gases. Ka-zoom! You’re hyperlooping.

The launched modules would ride atop aerostatic bearings, a thin layer of air, akin to an air-hockey table. With very little in-tube resistance, the shoot-forth speeds can be something seen only on salt flats. Per a real-time California scenario proposed by the Musk-man himself, “A Hyperloop system would propel passengers along the 350-mile route at a speed of 760 mph, allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes.”

Hey, don’t go balking off into the sunset on this subject. This is all-too-real here-and-now stuff. Tangible testing has earnestly begun.

At the beck and call of Mastermind Musk, brainiacs of every ilk have been competing in a veritable race into the hyperlooping future of all mankind. A top-speed competitor is a crack MIT Hyperloop Team, which has been repeatedly winning in something called the SpaceX Hyperloop competition. The goal of the multiyear event is to design and build a scaled hyperloop pod to test in a 1-mile long test track in Hawthorne, California. Next scheduled stop is a full-blown hyperloop system – though it better happen soon or it’ll be playing catch-up.

While America experiments about on a one-mile test track, India – suddenly a leader in world-class science and technology – is currently building a functional hyperloop system. It should be tubing folks forth within a couple years. That is no longer futuristic. It’s nowistic. That said, it’s better to let India try 700 mph things first. If things go wrong, its passengers can always come back as, say, beautiful dragonflies.

Personally, I’m hyping hyperlooping to save the environment. Follow me here. The placing of miles of tubing will have minimal impacts on the landscape, especially when compared to the roads, highways and railways they would complement. In fact, as hyperloops replace these antiquated infrastructures, huge amounts of built-upon real estate will be reclaimed – hopefully for the betterment of greenery. In an even greener vein of thinking, the near total lack of pollutants emitted by hyperloop systems will be an atmospheric blessing, matched by the even cleaner air when travelers loop-ride instead of driving.

How might it apply to we of a touristy LBI ilk? Let it be noted that we have some straight routes between points A (Philly or NYC) and B (LBI). A Route 70/72 hyperloop would go from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean in under ten minutes.

Picture this, off-Island anglers: You get an overwhelming urge to go fishing after you’re done work at 5 p.m. in the Big Apple. Simply grab a rod and the A-Hyperloop, bound for Ship Bottom. You’re there by 5:20. Fish on!

How about underwater hyperloops? Elon is listening. Ponder making the capsules and hyperloop tubes clear. You can get a great read on the fishing potential during the ride – though I’m not sure how to distinguish a school of bluefish when passing them at 750 mph.

Out of all the weird and whacky futuristic things I write about in here, the hyperloop looms large on the emission-cutting horizon. With future shock being what it has become, it will come sooner than later.

THE TERRAPIN THIEF: You probably heard about a Pa. poacher who was making a mint off smuggling diamondback terrapins, bound for a deep-pocketed pet realm. He was illegally nabbing thousands of terrapins of many sizes. Little Egg Harbor area was apparently one of his prime poach zones.

By my tally, his take was well over 3,500 terrapins … in just a few months. Such thievery comes close to neutralizing the hand-nurtured terrapins so many fine local folks had labored to release back into the wild.

By his own admission, he has been reptile poaching and smuggling for many years. The total number of terrapins he stole throughout his crime spree could exceed 10,000 by some accounts.

But who wants 10,000 terrapins? Google it and you’ll see these coastal reptiles have become highly sought-after as pets. On the clean side of the terrapin trade, there are plenty of legally-raised baby terrapins for collectors to snuggle with. But snuggling and smuggling are two different animals. While farm-raising is pretty much live and let live, poaching is stealing from nature with nothing but money in mind. It should be noted that the captured smuggler also legally bred terrapins, or so he claimed. Greed is insatiable.

Per NJ Fish and Wildlife reports, the poacher was mailing tiny terrapins via the US Postal Service, claiming they were “books” – as in very light reading. All the dealers receiving these deliveries knew full-well they weren’t reading material.

Again, these were live animals being shipped undercover. In fact, therein is a veiled compliment to the Postal Service and parcel delivery companies for transporting quickly enough to keep such clandestine deliveries alive and well, though there’s no guessing the survival rate for terrapins booked for long-distance flights.

What fines befall this poacher will likely be insignificant when compared to how much he has likely profited over the years. He’ll be at it again before the echoes of the judge’s gavel fade. Poachers never die – unless they are found mysteriously floating in the bay one day.

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