We were in the feed shop, to buy some provisions – a bag of seed and some chicken pienso. The talk had turned to the local issue of the jineta, a large and nasty predator that creeps around at night, breaking in to the bird pens and creating carnage. A genet cat, apparently, although nobody has seen it. The farmers say ‘the ugly face of the killer genet’, although in truth it’s rather a nice looking creature.
Aziz invited us to come into the back. Aziz is a Moroccan graduate in international law, now working in Spain tossing hay and feeding the chickens. I went with Alicia. ‘There’s where he got in’, said Aziz showing us a modest looking tear in the bottom of the fence, ‘he killed sixteen pullets. He bites off their heads and sucks the blood’. We shivered. We had had problems with this thing as well. ‘Look, I’ve left a snare for him’. We looked (as did two very worried looking chicks lurking uncomfortably on the far side of the trap).
Back in the store, an old man was buying some pellets. ‘They only do what they are meant to do, it’s not their fault’, he said. ‘Are you a farmer?’ asked Alicia. ‘No, I’m a hunter’, replied the old man, adding ‘they are God’s creation: creatures of Allah (he nodded at Aziz helpfully). Alicia became annoyed, ‘it killed my pet rabbit and a cockerel the other night’, she said indignantly.
We had found the tracks – heavier and larger than a cat. We had also found the corpses. Now the other birds – a mixture of ducks, chickens and peacocks – were all locked in a horsebox, which, judging by the sounds coming from the other side of the door, they didn’t care for.
I had put something on Facebook. Don’t kill it, said the British. Kill it, said the farmers. It’s a rare species said the ecologists. They were brought here by the Moors, said a historian. Catch it and send it to the zoo, said a girl. It’s a viverrid said a pedant. I’ll wring its bloody neck myself, said Alicia.
An old news-story found on Google tells of the successful and humane trapping of a genet which had killed any number of poultry in Asturias. The unrepentant animal was taken off in its cage to somewhere quiet in the countryside and was freed. Ecologists, don’t you love them?
Tonight, we wonder what’s happening in the neighbourhood. There’s a monster loose.