The Hunt for the Anteater

There are a few animals of Brazil that I have been dying to see. First and foremost is the giant anteater. My mom used to tell us stories of having one as a pet. When we got into Taunay, everyone told us that you can see them everywhere. “Just be careful if one comes near you. Stand still. They’re mostly blind, but they can rip you up bad with those claws,” my mom said. We didn’t see any. “They come out at night,” the villagers said, “around 7 or 9pm, maybe.” Jordan and I kept a vigil for them. We didn’t see any.

“They used to be everywhere,” explained Delair, “But the Xavante boys that come here for school like to hunt them. They’re not supposed to, but they don’t understand laws, so they hunt them all the time. That’s why you don’t see them as much anymore. They used to go out as a group at night, hunt one down and cook it right there. It was their favorite thing.

“Then one night they brought home some of the meat. The Terena boys hate it when they bring it back because it smells so bad. The next day, a police officer came to our school. He said, ‘Your Xavante boys killed my pet anteater.’ Everyone knew his pet anteater. It was huge because he fed it so well. And it wouldn’t hurt anyone. It just plodded around his yard. The Xavantes killed it right in his yard. The police officer said, ‘They will go to jail for this.’

“I told him, ‘why don’t you speak to the Xavante boys. I’ve told them that they can’t hunt, but they don’t listen to me because they don’t understand our laws and I’m a woman. But you’re a man. Maybe you can explain it better to them.’ So I brought the boys into the school office to talk with the officer.

“He asked them, ‘Are you being fed well here at the school?’ They all said, ‘Yes!’ He asked, ‘Do you like the food here?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Then why did you kill my anteater? You can’t hunt like that here. It’s against the law. I’m letting you go now because I understand you’re from a different culture, but next time, you will go to jail for this.’

“The Xavante boys don’t hunt them anymore, but that is why you’re not seeing the anteater like before,” said Delair.

I have no picture for you. Because I have yet to see one.

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