Man Eating Leopards in Sri Lanka 

 

Man eating leopard that attacked seven estate workers in Hatton

Officials from the Department of Wildlife Conservation stated that the efforts rendered to capture the man eating leopard that has attacked seven workers at the Panmure estate in Hatton have been unsuccessful. 

A joint effort of the Department of Wildlife Conservation together with doctors from the Udawalawe veterinary hospital yesterday (3), yielded no results as the traps set to capture the leopard were set off by stray dogs in the area.  Officials from the Department of Wildlife Conservation stated that the leopard may have fled away from the estate after hearing the traps being set off. 

Estate workers have refrained from attending work in fear of the leopard, completely halting tea production from the Panmure estate. Further children of local schools in the vicinity have also boycotted classes in fear of the man-eating leopard.  

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Prowling man-eater in Kumana National Park 

 

An unfortunate incident was reported four days after Sri Lanka celebrated the Sinhala and Hindu New Year.On April 18, 2019, the news went around that a leopard had attacked a casual employee working on road construction in the Yala East - Kumana National park. On this day, they were working on the Babaragasthalawa road on the Bagura Plains.

After a hard day’s work at about 4.30 pm in the evening, four workers with the victim had taken a break, resting in the shade of a tree when a leopard sprang on him. Typical of a leopard, the victim was dragged away from the spot into the bush.A brave jeep driver had driven up to the spot to offer assistance and attacked by the leopard which caused severe injuries to him as well.

It is not at all a normal situation for a leopard to attack a human. They usually avoid human confrontation in case they are in the same territory at the same time. Old Sri Lankan folklore says “Kotiyata dawas hathak una enawa minihek dakkama” - a leopard gets fever for seven days if it sees a human being at close quarters. These stories have been told by ancient people who lived in the forest-covered villages in our country. They had come to terms and understand the behaviour of all living beings including leopard.

I am not an expert on leopards, but a keen enthusiast of their behaviour and habits. One can learn a lot by reading the books, My India, The Man-Eatersof Kumoanand Leopard of Rudraprayag written by the famous Englishman, Jim Corbett who rid the poor villages of fear by shooting down some notorious man-eaters in some affected villages in India. His notes on some of his experience with man-eating tigers and leopards are a good guideline to anyone handling a situation or studying a trouble-creating member of the cat family, especially a possible man-eater. Who can turn out to be a man-eater? 

 

Man Eaters in Eastern Jungles

We have also had our own man-eaters, the most famous being from Poonani in the eastern jungles of Sri Lanka. After a long period of terror, during which it accounted for many human lives, this notorious beast was to be destroyed by a brave man Shelton Egar.

He wrote in his book, Man-Eater of Poonani a detailed description of what a dangerous beast a leopard could turn out to be in the role of a man-eater. It is difficult for one to believe how an animal could have the type of intelligence and understanding to adapt its skills when it has to attack human targets instead of the usual prey like deer, sambur or a boar. Sometimes, the reason for a leopard to attack humans is its inability to hunt. This may well be due to an injury. Wounded paws or limbs, damaged claw nails and infected and festering wounds are critical for leopards. Hunting porcupine may well be a reason. In situations like these, leopards depend on leftover carcasses, small mammals which are easy prey and refrain from their habits of attacking bigger animals. In cases like these, they would definitely attack a human at the first given chance.

 

Man Eating Leopards in Hatton

An alarming rise in leopard deaths in upcountry tea plantations has prompted police to begin an awareness campaign to avert deepening leopard-human conflict.In 2016 May, a plantation worker was severely injured when a leopard attacked him, springing out from tea bushes on the Q estate at Bogawantalawa.

The move to create safety awareness among tea pluckers came after three tea pluckers fainted on Monday when they saw a leopard in the plantation. The three women were admitted to Akkaraipathanai Hospital for treatment and later discharged.

Two leopards have been found dead on the Elpian estate in Akkaraipathanai area this week alone. People residing in line rooms complained the presence of leopards has become common during the nights as they come hunting for chickens and dogs.



Dos and Don’ts in a Leopard Encounter 
  • Back away and allow the animal to get away.   
  • Before you have the encounter, try to avoid it by making noise.   
  • Be close together, but don’t rush into the place  
  • Firecrackers and fire barrels will keep the animal away.  
  • Clear the space around your house if you’re living in close proximity to a forest