The Japanese vehicle did well in Main tarred road and took only 90 minutes to reach Kadoma, 142 Km from
It was a big piece of rock protruding a little from the soil. The yellow sulphide stains on the rock, intersected by numerous smoky quartz veins studded with few grains of Gold Nuggets gave us the first hand evidence of a gold bearing zone.
Checking with Compass, the strike (Length direction), dip (inclination) amount, and direction of the rock matched well with the regional strike of the insitu rock. We were sure that this small exposure was not a drifted rock but an insitu. Charged with this finding we started searching around the place for another one to confirm our observation but found none.
Left with no option, we walked down the valley, covered with deep forest. After walking a little, foul smell entered our nose and Jeevan saw something in one of the tall trees and showed us.
Up in the tree there was a skin of a deer killed freshly.
Jivan told us it could be Leopard’s unfinished job. The leopard can drag a prey, which could weigh two to three times its own weight, high up in a tree. After making a kill, the leopard may eat at the site, drag the remains of the prey by the neck in its mouth, and pull it high up into a tree. The carcass is hung over the tree branches so other animals will not steal the food. The leopard will eat the remains of the prey in the next few days.
We had only pocketknives for sampling, except Jiban, we were soaked with beads of sweats on our forehead. Jeevan took out few masks of strange looking human face and diesel soaked dry sticks from his bag. We wore the masks at the back of our face and kept the sticks ready in our hand. Jiban assured us that the mask should prevent us from an attack from the back and the lighted sticks from a face-to-face attack. Jeevan led us the way towards the valley.
The narrow zig- zag foot track amid the long trees on both sides took suddenly a left turn and we crossed the turn we could not find Jiban but only his torch till live. We started shouting for him but there was no reply.
Facing diametrically opposite to each other, we formed a big circle, and once again shouted for him. We heard his voice and it appeared he was probably unhurt but might need a rescue.
Looking in that direction we soon found a horizontal opening appeared like an adit mouth and soon another vertical shaft. Mean while Jiban came out from that adit opening and his opened his fist and shouted
With delicate blows of hammer, we broke the dull looking rocks into small fragments and put them on gently inclined chamois leather. The gold particles were caught in the leather.
">Through the adit opening, we went inside and reached the place where Jivan fell down. We went down little more to collect some more samples. Some people illegally opened up this place; they even made a small vertical shaft also and mined gold nuggets but stopped as ground conditions became hard for them.
Vertical Shaft made by Illegal Miners
However, we found all the strong evidence of further continuity of this gold bearing zone down the depth.
">Before we could reach the river, we saw another interesting thing. The whole area just near the river was dug up and people were engaged in other activities than mere taking bathing or fishing. They already made many pits and were busy in taking out the rubbles from these places. At one place, with the river water they wash the rubbles and pan for gold. Musclemen buy the gold they recover from these places at the weekend. The soiled few dollar notes are not sufficient to buy enough corn or Maize to feed the whole family. The malnutrition of the children that they brought along with them was sufficient to tell us that these simple villagers were speaking the truth.
Jiban spoke to them in the local language and told us that it would take us an hour to reach the adjoining hilltop where we may find some place to stay for the night.
Afternoon was setting in and we decided to take a short cut to reach the hill than take the long spires. However, the shortcut path was through neck deep grass. We were cursing Jeevan for taking this route. However, he was encouraging us and telling us the demerits of the spires. Not only it was longer, it is dangerous after the dusk. No sooner he finished his talking we all heard some movements in the adjoining bush. Suddenly the movements stopped, I felt a cold flow in my spine, and all of us stood motionless as if to become easy and tasty prey of someone.
We saw something in pale olive color firmly approaching us and there it was. An armed forest guard with a sten dangling at his back stood in our way and shouted in local language. Jivan took out the special permit of all of us and showed to him. He told us that he was sorry for taking us as poachers only.
Jiban said, “We saw, down in the valley, a deer skin. Possibly a Leopard…”
The guard broke in laughter “They killed almost all the leopards for their skin. The only Leopard, which lived in a den just at the down-slope of the forest rest house of the hilltop, did not come back to his den for a week. Possibly, he had the same fate. Have you seen any blood stains around the tree on which you saw the skin of the deer?”
“Safe means do you….”
">The site of the hill fountain lured us to soak our body for a while. We deserved a bath after the whole day’s episode. Although the idea of sharing the accommodation with the passengers of covered Jeep was nagging us, we forced ourselves to keep it aside.
We did not know until then how much surprise was waiting for us.
The “XYLO”, parked outside the rest house, was unmistakably ours. The number plate pointed so. In our last conversation with Roberts, we just mentioned that we were near the river where people were panning gold.
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">The fire was on in the Tin-shed and each one of us narrated their Jungle days. But, nothing was like this. The sound of waterfall and the sound of the herd of animals down the valley quenching their thirst in the background of chirping of Crickets was a rare orchestra session for us. Suddenly there were continued alarms of barking deers. One of us who spent almost his lifetime in
Jeevan said “Who has comeback”
I could not finish. One of us said “All of look at your back. Look at the roof of the Guesthouse and there look at the top of XYLO. There is another one”