The Leopard of the Yellagiri Hills
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....
which claimed three victims in the vicinity of the Yellagiris, a crescent formation of hills east of the Jalarpet Junction
Jolarpet is a panchayat town in Vellore district, Tamil Nadu, India.Now it is IInd grade municipality from 2011. It is an important railway junction in Southern Railway. It is located 7km from Tirupattur and 18 km from Vaniyambadi...
railway on the Southern Railway
The Southern Railway is the earliest of the 16 zones of the Indian Railways created in independent India. It was created on April 14, 1951 by merging three state railways namely Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, the South Indian Railway, and the Mysore State Railway. The South Indian Railway...
. It was 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 described it as thus;
The leopard originally limited itself to killing the cows of a herdsman named Nathan, who over a three month period, lost four of his animals to the beast. Two other herdsman in his village lost a couple each. When the monsoon season arrived, the cattle were transferred into the village itself. The leopard followed the herds, but was driven out by the herdsman every time, until one day, hunger drove it to kill a cow in front of two men. The leopard refused to be intimidated, and frightened off the herdsmen with loud growls. The villagers enlisted the help of a forester named Ramu, who at first hesitated to take on the assignment due to his lack of experience in hunting carnivores. He soon conceded and a day later, requested that a goat bait be tethered near a banyan tree close to where the leopard usually frequented. With the help of some villagers, he built a machan on the tree, and stood watch. Two hours later, at six p.m, the leopard took the bait. Ramu fired his single barreled .12 bore shotgun, which had been loaded with L.G cartridges, at the leopard. The leopard retreated into the jungle, and though it left a blood trail, it was not to be found the following morning.
First hunt for the leopard
Two months later, in the same area, the leopard mauled a 16 year old boy, who managed to fight off the animal with a stick. Three weeks later, the leopard killed a goatherder who had launched himself on the animal in defence of his flock. The next morning, a search party of 30 villagers armed with clubs and staves went in search of the goatherd and found his half eaten body under heavy brush, one hundred yards from where there could be clearly seen splashes of blood and leopard pug marks. Kenneth Anderson was informed by the villagers of the death a few days later. Anderson asked the local Patel
Patel is a surname of Indian origin, originally meaning "headman" or"village chief". Patels are socially, economically and politically the most dominant caste in Gujarat Patels are basically Kurmis or Kunbis and are found in various geographical locations. The Kunbi are an Indian subcaste...
for a goat, and a small kid was purchased from a neighboring hamlet. With the help of the villagers, Anderson constructed a machan with the wood from a nearby jak-fruit tree, and tethered the kid twenty feet away. The panther never came, and by 9:15 p.m, Anderson gave up the vigil. He tried again unsuccessfully for three days, and later, returned to his home in Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...
, instructing the Patel to inform him should the leopard attack again.
Second hunt for the leopard
Seven weeks later, a mail carrier at Jalarpet disappeared, and a subsequent search in the nearby hills resulted in the discovery of his spear and later, his body. Anderson left Bangalore, this time fully equipped with a .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...
. The villagers informed him that a leopard had been sighted regularly on a hill named Periamalai (big hill), three miles east to the village and five miles from where the carrier had been killed. After selecting a spot near where the leopard was last sighted, Anderson returned to the village in order to procure a bait. This time, he chose a donkey, because unlike a goat which would have been completely devoured in one sitting, the donkey was large enough to warrant the leopard returning after its first meal. Three donkeys were purchased, one was tethered on the site of the mail carriers death, the other two on the village outskirts. The donkeys remained untouched for several days, until one night, the donkey at the mail carriers death site was killed and eaten. Anderson and some villagers rushed to the site and constructed a well camouflaged machan near the body. Anderson waited, and at nightfall, he heard the breathing of the leopard near the carcass. Preferring to wait until the animal had settled down on its kill, Anderson did not open fire. Nothing happened, and by 9:00 p.m, Anderson heard the leopard growling. Having somehow become aware of Anderson's presence, the leopard growled loudly for a few moments, before charging at the machan. Anderson fired at the leopard, but the shot was deflected by a tree branch. The leopard ran into the brush, and did not return. Morning revealed that the donkey carcass had been untouched and there was no indication that Anderson's shots had injured the leopard. Anderson returned to Bangalore after instructing the villagers to inform him should another attack take place.
Third hunt for the leopard
Nearly four months later, Anderson received a telegram from the villager Patel stating that the leopard had claimed another victim. He arrived at the Patels village at 7:15 in the morning, and was told that the victim had been a young woman collecting water in a stream running past the base of the Periamalai hill three days prior. Anderson purchased a goat from a nearby village. Anderson was not overly pleased with the bait, as it was an old animal which rarely vocalized, and it was purely black, a colour not present in the leopards natural prey, thus increasing the possibility of arousing the leopards suspicion. Arriving at the site of the last kill, Anderson tied the goat close to the stream, and hid himself in a lantana bush. The night proved fruitless because the goat fell asleep and did not cry out.
Death and post mortem
Anderson grudgingly lead the goat back to the village the next morning, and with the help of the Patel, bought a half grown goat more likely to call out at night, thus increasing the chances of attracting the leopard. Tethering the goat at the same place as before, Anderson waited throughout the night until at 6:00 p.m, he heard the leopard approach. A few moments later, the leopard emitted a hiss, revealing that it was aware of Anderson's presence. Switching on his torch, Anderson saw the leopard ten feet away from him. He fired his .405 Winchester twice, hitting its throat and chest. The next morning, the leopards body was found. It was described as;