Some remarkable photos and a video have surfaced of a snarling leopard as it fought locals and forest officials as they tried to drive it back toward a wildlife sanctuary in West Bengal, India, on Tuesday.
It was in the Prakash Nagar village, on the outskirts of Siliguri, that this adult male cat mauled 11 people in the settlement before being captured. In one video, the announcer says that the leopard was released back into the forest.
But later reports claim that the cat died a few hours after being captured from knife wounds it received during the attack.
Forest official Dharma Dev Rai said that the locals used knives, stones and sticks to beat back the cat. The leopard injured six villagers, four forest guards and a policeman, before a forest guard finally shot the cat with a tranquilizer dart.
Leopards are protected in India, though more cats are straying into villages in search of food. This attack is not the first in this area. Other recent attacks resulted in injuries to 6 and 8 people in nearby farming villages on the outskirts of the forests.
So what can you do to avoid a run-in with a big cat in the wild?
• Never travel alone. The buddy system works for all kinds of survival scenarios, including animal encounters.
• Be noisy. This lets the animals know you are coming, so they are not caught off guard.
• Cats mainly attack from behind. Don't give them the chance by turning and running. Some people in the region of India where the leopard attack occurred travel through the forests wearing a mask of a face on the back of their head as a way to confuse any stalking cats. There's no data to back up this old local trick, but some villagers swear by it.
• Don't travel unarmed. Rocks and sticks were not very effective on this leopard, and there are even bigger, meaner things than him (like tigers) in the remaining wild places.