Friday, July 2, 2021

Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away

INDIA-NEWS AND COMMENT: Two brothers, Firoz and Sabir Mansuri, were on their motorbike heading towards a birthday party for Firoz's son in Madhya Pradesh when a leopard came out of a sugarcane field and tried to attack them. Firoz was the driver while Sabir was the pillion passenger carrying the cake. He said that when times are desperate you do what you can to survive and what occurred to him was to throw the cake at the leopard who was following them for over 500 m. It did the trick.

Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away
 Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away

The cake hit the leopard, distracting it and it disappeared back into the fields whence it had come. Comment: leopards not infrequently come into conflict with people in India because of the large number of people in India and there are quite a few leopards as well. We are told that leopard numbers in India have grown by more than 60% between 2014 and 2018 to almost 13,000. I'm surprised to read this but even without this growth in numbers you will notice on the Internet that there is a lot of leopard-human conflict in India. Leopards tend to go into urban environments where they are attacked by a mob of men normally. It is not nice to see to be honest.

And I believe that you get testosterone fuelled men wanting to show off so they have a go at single-handedly attacking the leopard. Not all leopards are large and highly dangerous. Female leopards or sub-adult leopards can be quite small in comparison to what people think they are.

Although, Sabir said that they escaped death with their birthday cake. I'm not sure that they would have been killed by this leopard. There have been man-eating leopards in the past, back in the old days when there were "white hunters" tracking maneaters but they are rare nowadays. Or at least the Indian news media does not tell us much about these attacks.

Normally, we read about leopards falling into wells and kind people extracting the animal from the well with great difficulty. They then release the leopard back into the wild. Leopards are the fourth largest cat after the jaguar, lion and tiger. They are similar in size to the mountain lion.

Conflict with humans

In 2002, Mel and Fiona Sunquist reported about the conflict between leopards and humans in their book Wild Cats of the World. They say that conflicts exist in many different ways but most commonly in the form of leopards killing domestic stock. Whenever leopards live close to humans, they end up attacking and killing livestock such as sheep, goats and other livestock. They also attack and kill dogs in quite large numbers. Occasionally they kill people. In April 1989 the newspaper Rising Nepal said that "local people had stoned to death a leopard which had killed a man collecting wood in the forest in western Nepal."

Genuine man-eating leopards i.e. those who are habituated to killing people are rare as mentioned. Man-eating leopards are much rarer than man eating tigers. Because leopards are bold and stealthy, once they have a taste for human blood, they can be formidable and claim a large number of victims.

Some citizens of India fear man-eating leopards more than tigers partly because leopards are bold enough to break into their homes to kill their victims inside. One famous maneater, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, killed 125 people. The hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who has a park named after him, was called upon to hunt down the Panar leopard which was credited with having killed 400 people! Despite man eating leopards being hard to track and kill, he was successful.

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