The maneater of Deval

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prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:11 pm

The villagers wanted results and they wanted them fast.
But shooting a confirmed killer takes time.
In three days we realised that the leopard was not using the road . There was a thick patch of bush downhill where a stream flowed . There was no disturbance in this area. This was most probably the place where the maneater lived. It moved uphill every night and ventured into the village looking for the next victim. Fortunately the villagers were taking all precautions and the maneater was not getting a chance. For us. It was a race against time.
Getting the killer. Before it got someone else.
The village was mid way uphill and was connected by a metaled road which came down from Pratapnagar. The road ended at the Shiva temple which overlooked the entire village. The houses within the village were connected to each other by narrow cemented and stone tracks just enough for two people to walk along. Our days were spent walking up and down these narrow hill tracks looking for signs of the leopard's movement. The nights were spent on the bait and searching. From the forth night we started to tie two baits within the village. A stray dog and the goat. At two extreme ends of the village. Another couple of days and nights passed . With the maneater still eluding us .We were tired and exhausted but then the tides changed.

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by kanwar76 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:47 pm

Thriller...
I am the Saint the Soldier that walks in Peace. I am the Humble dust of your feet, But dont think my Spirituality makes me weak. The Heavens will roar if my Kirpan were to speak...

prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:48 pm

On the morning of 20th August. Barely 70 meters from where i had tied the goat as bait .
A young girl coming out of the toilet in the early hours of the morning saw the leopard just a few yards away. She locked herself inside the toilet and raised an alarm. Her relatives woke up and alerted the neighbours. Armed with sticks and axes they came out ......only to see the fleeing glimpse of the big cat. One leap and the leopard vanished into the corn fields.
We were woken up by the villagers who called on our mobile phones. Pulled out the rifles and rushed to the spot as soon as we could. Searched the entire area for hours but found no evidence of the leopard. Master of camouflage . My instinct somehow told me that the leopard was watching us while we had no idea where it was.
By mid day it was hot and humid and we finally decided to call off the search.
We normally have two meals a day during our hunts. A brunch around 11am and an early supper. Today our brunch had been delayed so the cook made lunch....consisting of chana and rice . Tired and hungry we feasted on the meal. We had barely finished our food and lay down to stretch our aching bodies that we got another call. A few women had gone downhill to collect fodder for their cattle and had spotted the leopard.
We again picked up our rifles and walked down to where the women were. We found the group of five women bundled together , sickles in hand and visibly terrified. They were relieved to see us. A few village folks had accompanied us to the spot. One of them stayed back with us while the others escorted the women back to the village.
We strained our eyes and tried to look around but again found nothing . The long walk uphill with the rifle on the shoulder and a stomach full of chana and rice was painful, to say least.
Last edited by prashantsingh on Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:14 pm

I had cramps and my abdomen pained.
Later in the evening we tied both baits and sat on either side of the village . The same evening we got a call from the Pradhan (village head). A leopard had been spotted on the Deval-Pratapnagar road. It was sitting in the middle of the road and had caused a traffic jam.
Both Zaheer and I left our hide and rushed uphill to the main road. By the time we got there the leopard was gone.
It takes time to climb uphill with a rifle on your shoulder. Throughout the walk . I was cursing myself. We should have stuck to the original plan and allowed Zaheer to search the road with the spotlight. I should have stuck to the village.
Finally we reached the spot and were told that the leopard, disturbed by the traffic . Had moved uphill.
A man had taken a video on his mobile and shared it with us.
We saw the video again and again and finally came to the conclusion that the leopard on the road was the big male (not the maneater).
I was finally relieved and returned to our room.
I shall ask Inder to share the phot of the big male here and compare it with the female so that everyone gets an idea
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Last edited by prashantsingh on Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by drag73 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:20 pm

Damn...more suspence.....loving it

prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:32 pm

Well the photos were taken by a very basic mobile phone belonging to a villager
Hence the poor quality.
It takes a little time to train your eye to look into the finer details . But slowly one picks up.

If you watch carefully and compare it with the photo of the leopard in the CCTV footage
You will find a difference in the size and shape of the head and neck.
The big male's head is rounder and bigger when compared to that of the female seen in the CCTV
Last edited by prashantsingh on Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:46 pm

We always work as a team. A team mate driving the jeep is as important as the spotter showing the flash light and the one squeezing the trigger.
Everyone has his own place in the team and plays an equally important role in bringing down the killer.
We strive for no name , fame or financial gain.
When the animal is shot . The entire team gets the credit rather than the individual who squeezes the trigger.
Even otherwise . We keep a low profile and you will hardly see our photos in the media.
While most Shikaris love posing with their kills in news papers and social media. We believe in the age old saying

" Its not the trophy. But the race
Its not the quarry , But the chase"

Killing is incidental. A small part of an overall amazing experience close to nature.
Last edited by prashantsingh on Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:54 pm

Being close to nature is the driving force.
Saving human lives and getting the right animal. Is the pulling force which draws us to these hunts.
It is this passion which forces us to take risks. Which makes us rough it out. Which makes us walk miles up and down the hills. Which makes us live in an accommodation which is worse than what we offer our servants .
Our better half's feel we are crazy. But thanks to their unconditional support. We are able to pursue our passion.
Will write about the last day tomorrow and end the story

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by AgentDoubleS » Tue Sep 29, 2020 12:18 am

You have us on the edge, Prashant. The wait for the next part of your narration is as painful as your wait up on that machan! Thanks for taking the time and sharing these thrilling experiences with us.

Cheers
SS

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by timmy » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:11 am

This is a real hair raising tale you have used to capture us, Prashant. I can almost feel the humidity and bug bites while you re sitting in the machan waiting for this beast to appear.
“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:21 pm

On 21st night we tied a dog as bait
A typical house in the hills is double storied . The cattle live on the ground floor . The folks live on the first floor .
A black stray dog was picked up from the street and fed in the morning.
We decided to tie it in the courtyard of the house where the leopard had been spotted by the girl. Zaheer secured it properly with a couple f chains and a rope . One chain was placed around the neck . The other around the chest. A rope was also tied to give additional strength.
The strategy was to sit inside the cowshed and wait .
But the house owner had pity on the dog and tied a spiked collar on the neck. Zaheer resisted but he just did not listen.
What surprises me is the compassion people have (in India ) towards other living things, I have never seen such compassion anywhere else in the world.
Here we had a stray dog whose life did not mean much to us. Yet the house owner did not want the leopard to kill the dog.
I feel. It is this compassion which has helped wildlife in India to survive inspite of tremendous biotic pressure
Less than 3 percent of India is protected forest in the form of Reserves Sancturies and National Parks.
Yet we hold 70 percent of the worlds wild tiger population.
I give the entire credit to these very people , the villagers who share their habitat with these wild animals . Who have to face their wrath on and off in the process and yet coexist with them in reasonable peace and harmony

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by SMJ » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:01 pm

[/quote]

Yes it has.
The minimum calibre for a tiger and an elephant is a .375 mag
We had a maneating tigress in Ramnagar sometime back that i could not go after as I was in Canada for a month on a holiday with family. The tigress was finally shot by a friend.
There was a rogue tusker in BHEL Haridwar which had killed 3 people.
In a spectacular operation . A one of its kind in North India . The young bull was darted and captured by the Director Rajaji National Park and his team, and subsequently trained by expert mahawats.
The elephant (now named Raja) is being used by the Forest Dept in anti poaching operations.
The entire story has featured in the April issue of CHEETAL .....Journal of the Wildlife Preservation Society (Estd 1958)
I happen to be a life member of the Society and its Executive Vice President.

IMG-20200928-WA0031.jpgIMG-20200928-WA0030.jpg
[/quote]

Very interesting story about the elephant -possibly it was in musth at the time of the killings. Will find out if Cheetal would be available in Bombay - Ill definitely subscribe. The gentleman in the second photo with the tiger looks like Mr Lakhpat Singh Rawat. Waiting with bated breath for the rest of the story...

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:03 pm

We took our position in the cowshed along with goats, couple of cows and a buffalo.
The leopard came at 5 min past ten.
Walked up the steps onto the courtyard . Saw the dog but ignored it. Probably the collar was a deterent. Probably it was looking for more than a dog.....a human . It trotted across the courtyard and vanished in the darkness.
There was a lamp in front of the house and one infront of the toilet. A small patch of darkness remained between the toilet and the house. The leopard positioned itself in this dark spot.....unseen to the human eye.
All this happened within seconds. Before the rifle could be raised . The slight limp on the left shoulder was prominent at such close range.
Exactly at 10 10 pm . The perfectly focused spotlight illuminated the dark spot and almost simultaneously the village echoed with the sound of rifle fire
The 270 gr soft nose bullet fired from the .375 mag rifle tore through the chest of the crouching man killer.
But to our surprise . Instead of dropping dead . The leopard jumped high in the air and vanished in the thick corn fields......downhill.
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prashantsingh
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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:05 pm

I shall ask Inderjit to post the last set of phptos

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Re: The maneater of Deval

Post by prashantsingh » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:15 pm

We waited for ten more minutes before coming out of the cow shed.
"Consider a leopard dead only after it has been skinned" . An old Shikari had once told me
How could a leopard shot at 25 yards with a 375 mag rifle even move from its place.
A similar shot fired from the same rifle, same cartridge, same shot placement, at more than 50 meters had dropped the maneating leopard of BhEL dead . On the spot.
We slowly came out of the cow shed. Left our scoped rifles behind and took our 12 bore shot guns. A forest guard showed the flash light and we entered the corn field.
If the maneater charged .
A bolt action scoped rifle would be rendered useless
A leopard can run at a speed of 70 kms an hour.
A dbbl shot would not only allow us to shoot faster , it would also give us the chance to take the second shot without reloading.
We were relieved to find the first spots of blood.
The bleeding was not much but we also found some lung tissue along with the few drops of blood.
We immediately called off the hut
The maneater had been hit .
And had been hit hard
Looking for it in the dark night was pointless
We would surely find a few paces away in the morning

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