For some reason, the gigantic birds liked to fly around the volcano, doing many turns until they seemed to feel it was enough, and then they flew away to their nests, down in the base of the mountain. Many scientists had regaled for many years, visiting Elipo Island and watching the beautiful red birds fly around the mountain. It was one of those beautiful thing from nature you just had to see once in your lifetime and many had already did that from their comfortable chairs at home.
Elipo was an island that, for many years, had been left alone by civilization. But as transportations got better and faster and communications made everyone accessible in seconds, there was an urge to discover everything there was to uncover in the world around us. So many scientists embarked for remote regions, trying to document in any way, shape or form, all the new species of plants and animals that they could find. It was a new age of discovery and every single person in the world was a part of it.
The so-called eagles of Elipo were the most interesting species that had been found in recent years in that corner of the world. They were a strange animal, as birds would normally fly long distances to make nests or get food. But the red eagles did not do that at all. They liked to stay on Elipo, flying around the volcano and then getting food in the small patch of jungle that covered must of the island. They could feed on small lizards and tiny mammals that were very agile and would give up a nice fight.
The eagle’s favorite food was the Elipo hedgehog, an especially large kind of hedgehog that fed on various smaller animals and fruits that it found laying around in the jungle. One of the best scenes to witness for a scientist would be the fight between an eagle and a hedgehog. The first one would be coming from above, just after locating its prey visually. It would come down at full speed, trying to use the element of surprise as a weapon. The shape of such a living bullet was just an amazing thing to see.
However, the hedgehogs had lived there as long as the eagles and they had learned to notice the changes in the wind around them in order to notice any incoming dangers. So right before the eagle could grab them to take them away, the hedgehogs would turn into a very tight ball, with all its spines rising towards the sun. The eagle would then land on the ground, unable to properly carry its food, and proceed to attack its prey with its beak. You have to remember eagles in Elipo are at least twice as big as normal eagles, so the fight would be a very interesting sight.
The hedgehog would then stay as a ball or sometimes open up and fight the eagle with the spines in its forehead, which tended to be longer and sharper. A fight between the two animals could last a few minutes or several hours. Many scientists would disrupt these encounters by making sounds, caused by an overwhelming fatigue. No one had ever seen a long fight between those two creatures in its entirety. And most times, none of the animals ended up dead. A draw was the most common outcome.
However, eagles won enough times to feed themselves and their young with the body of one large hedgehog. It was more than enough for most of them. Elipo was a place of harmony and animals were never “bad” or “good”, they didn’t act on despair or anything like that: they had easy access to fresh water, to food and to places were they could take care of their families. Before the arrival of humans, they had nothing to fear. As you might have guessed, not every incoming human was a scientist.
Hordes of hunters and animal traffickers had discovered these new places were they could go and get all the animals they wanted with almost no resistance from the countries allegedly controlling the area or by the local tribes that inhabited these remotes areas of the world. They learned soon that there was no way they could stop the cruelty of the white man with their weapons, so they decided to pull back and just be silent witnesses to the horrible things those men and women did in the jungle.
So these horrible people soon got to Elipo and got to meet the beautiful eagles and the hedgehogs they ate. The first ones to get trapped were the latter ones, as they were craved all around the worlds as pets. Besides that, they knew that by depleting the food resources of the eagles, the birds would be weaker and they would be less willing to fight them the moment the hunters and traffickers started climbing the volcano to get them. The eagles noticed very soon that something was very wrong in the island.
After a couple of weeks, the number of hedgehogs had dropped dramatically and eagles had no real way of supporting themselves and their young. That moment was used by the evil men to climb up the mountain and start grabbing eagle eggs and young chicks from their nests. Of course, that caused a horrible respond from the eagles, which tried to defend themselves against the traffickers but that was a lost battle. Those people had guns and many other weapons, so the eagles could only scratch some of them badly before been killed or having to escape from the area.
When the scientists came back from their period of rest, they noticed that Elipo was dying. Not only the eagles were very scarcer, the hedgehogs and other animals had almost disappeared from the island. They tried to do their best to help the species gain the territories they had once held, as well as their older numbers but that seemed impossible. The traffickers had done so much damaged; it was possible no one could ever make up for it, not even if they spent years working there.
And the scientists could not just stay there, they had to leave for a while and, when the local government realized what had happened, they banned any ships from abroad to enter the area. They argued that it would stop poaching but it really didn’t, as most traffickers used local boats and were people from the region. They had to be in order to have all the information necessary to get all those animals and their young, as well as many plants, which they sold to the pharmaceutical companies.
The scientist decided to talk to the regional communities, especially the indigenous ones, in order for them to better protect the area. It wasn’t really a surprise when they realized that Elipo Island had always been a sort of sanctuary to them. As per their traditions, a young man had to visit the island on his fifteenth birthday. Their only task there was to climb the mountain and get a single feather from one of the birds. That meant they had become a man and they should be welcome in their communities as such.
The scientists learned from the local peoples and they learned from the scientists new things they didn’t know about Elipo. They made an alliance to restore the island to its former glory and to fight the poachers. No weapons were used, just a lot of very smart gadgets and traps to make the evil men go away and just never return.
Their goal was achieved, many years later, when the government recognized its poor treatment of the situation. As for the animals, that was another story. The eagle community had been severely damaged and recovering it would take a lot longer, if it worked at all.