Then there is the will you speechless “Trophy room” with heads of animals peeking at you from every corner- a display of man’s paramount power on one hand but misplaced machismo on another. Suddenly the unforgivable man eating leopardess could not look more forgivable.
I couldn’t feel more proud and privileged to know my cousin, the star of the story, up close and personal. Her outdoorsy life in the wild was enviable. So the moment on a casual family visit when she wondered aloud “Would you like to come see the trail of…”, I jumped with a resounding “Yes”!!! before she could even complete her thought. Afterall, how often does one get to be at the centre of a crime scene, privy to every detail. The man eating leopardess may have been caught but it would be an adventure to trace its tracks and maybe catch a glimpse of the other leopards still at large in the area.
|The Man Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag ( Paperback )|
Publisher : Oxford University Press
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It is one of the well documented stories ever written on the subject bythe author and the hunter Jim Corbett who went after the man eatingleopard of Rudraprayag in the year 1925-26. He was accompanied by theCommissioner of Kumaon, Sir William Ibbotson. Both men worked so hard,day and night following this animal, which according to the documents,killed 125 people. Corbett was a 50 year old bachelor, very much incontrol, a tall (just over 6 feet)seasoned hunter and sporting histrademark mustache during this period, while Ibbotson was short (about5'6"), clean-shaven and married to Jean.
My cousin, Shailaja Deval, who is the District Forest Officer at Dungarpur, Rajasthan had caught a man eating leopardess. It was a fearless, gargantuan task that took months of relentless chasing, stalking and strategizing with a large forest department team. Given that the leopardess ruthlessly killed several tribal kids and a grown woman, the pressure to capture the errant cat was immense. That it was finally ingeniously achieved by a lady officer of course made headlines.