The Leopard of Gummalapur
, also known as the Spotted Devil of Gummalapur
, was a man-eating
Man-eater is a colloquial term for an animal that preys upon humans. This does not include scavenging. Although human beings can be attacked by many kinds of animals, man-eaters are those that have incorporated human flesh into their usual diet...
The Indian leopard is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the five big cats found in India, apart from Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard....
responsible for the deaths of 42 people in the villages of Gummalapur and Devarabetta in southern Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...
over an area of 250 mi2. At sundown, the villagers would barricade their doors, daring to venture out only in daylight. This caused a health crisis, as sanitation was poor, and the villagers dared not venture to the adjacent wasteland which acted as a latrine. In its frustration, the leopard began entering through the thatched walls and roofs of the huts, in one case, killing all four inhabitants of one hut. It was eventually killed by Kenneth Anderson
Kenneth Anderson was an Indian writer and hunter who wrote many books about his adventures in the jungles of South India.- Background :...
, who would later note that the animal had an injury preventing it from hunting its natural prey. Anderson narrated the events in his Nine Man-Eaters and one Rogue
, published in 1954, though the exact dates of the attacks are not specified.
First hunt for the leopard
Kenneth Anderson arrived at Gummalapur at the request of the District Magistrate in order to rid the area of the leopard. Anderson received no help from the villagers, who believed that any attempt in assisting him would bring about the wrath of the leopard.
At 18:00, Anderson set himself upon a chair in front of a 12 feet (3.7 m) high wall covered in thorns as a precaution should the leopard attempt to ambush him from behind. Throughout the night, Anderson unsuccessfully attempted to attract the leopard by coughing and talking to himself loudly. The night proved fruitless, and by noon, the villagers became much more cooperative, thinking that Anderson’s loud remarks at night were conversations with spirits.
Second hunt for the leopard
The next night, Anderson instructed the villagers to lend him a hut, where a lifelike dummy would be placed within, with the front door left ajar in order to lure the leopard. Anderson himself hid within the hut behind a pile of boxes near the dummy. The night passed with no results. The next night, Anderson was awoken from an unintentional sleep by the growls of the leopard, which upon realising the deception, bolted away into the jungle.
Third hunt for the leopard
Realizing that the leopard would not strike at Gummalapur again for a long while, Anderson journeyed to the village of Devarabetta, where the leopard had struck a month before. Anderson placed himself behind a thorn covered wall like on the first hunt, though this time he had the advantage of being closer to the jungle, thus making it easier to detect the arrival of the leopard through the alarm calls of other animals. During the night, Anderson was approached by a malnourished pariah dog
The term pariah dog originally referred to Chinese/Indian feral dogs of a particular type, but it is now used by the United Kennel Club to refer to a purebred dog category.- Feral dogs of India :...
, which he named "Nipper" and fed during the night. After a few hours, the dog awoke from its sleep, and exhibited signs of fear. Anderson spotted the leopard climbing over the hut roofs, but lost sight of it in the dark. After a few minutes searching, Anderson was alerted to the leopard’s presence by the dog’s barking. Upon turning, Anderson saw the leopard charge him. Firing three rounds from his .405 Winchester
The .405 Winchester is a centerfire rifle cartridge introduced in 1904 for the Winchester 1895 lever-action rifle. It was the most powerful lever-action cartridge available until the .444 Marlin was introduced in 1964, and was highly regarded by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt during his safari...
, Anderson killed the leopard, whose carcass was immediately set upon by the dog.
Upon examining the body, Anderson found two Indian Porcupine
The Indian Crested Porcupine , or Indian Porcupine, is a member of the Old World porcupines. It is quite an adaptable rodent, found throughout southern Asia and the Middle East. It is tolerant of several different habitats: mountains, tropical and subtropical grasslands, scrublands, and forests...
quills lodged between the toes of the leopard’s right forefoot, an injury preventing it from hunting its swift natural prey. It was also revealed that before becoming a man-eater, the injured leopard frequently fed upon the corpses of cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...
victims left in the forest, thus habituating it to the consumption of human flesh.