By the grace of God , the foliage in that Mango Garden was not dense at all . This considerably aided in my visibility. At around 11:45 PM at night ... I could slowly begin to hear rustling through the grass of that Mango Garden . I kept my eyes glued on the bait , as it lay hanging from the branch of that mango tree . I could see the very pronounced shape of the panther , as it slowly crept up towards the bait .
After sniffing the bait for a few seconds , the brute began to gnaw on the raw pork with a feeling of impunity. This was my opportunity.
I slowly raised my “ Old Belgian “ to my shoulder and took aim at the feeding and unsuspecting brute . I pressed the button of my pencil torch light and shone the beam of the pencil torch light on to the head of the panther . As the brute turned to stare at me ... I did not give it any time to react . I let off my left barrel at the brute , at a distance of 10 yards ... my point of aim being the region right between the brute’s 2 eyes. And that was that . It dropped lifeless.
Below, I have provided a photograph taken by myself today of the brute’s head and am pointing to the bullet hole inflicted by my 1 ounce spherical ball of hardened lead . This is the region which I would always select as my point of aim for panthers .
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Upon examining the panther , I learnt that it was not a large 1 at all . It was in fact, what the local Indian shikarees living in West Bengal , referred to ... as a “ Clouded Leopard “ . The brute weighed only 52 pounds and had a nose to tail length of 4 feet and 5 inches .
Below , I have provided some more photographs taken by myself of the brute , along with measuring tape for indicating my accuracy in measurements .
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It now became crystal clear to me , as to why the “ Child Eater Of Terai “ was only attacking children. A panther of this size would typically not be a fatal threat to an adult human being .For small children however ... this panther could present a perfectly legitimate threat , especially if the wounds of the children became septic ( which they did . )
Upon skinning the brute , we found no less than 6 large , squirmy maggots inside the brute’s brain . Was this the cause of the panther’s depravity ? It may very well be so .
I was initially a little skeptical if I had actually dispatched the real culprit that had mauled all of those children . So , I asked the villagers if they could bring some of the children who had been non fatally wounded by the panther , to come and see the corpse of the slain brute . True enough ... every single 1 of the wounded children were dead certain that THIS was the exact same panther , which had attacked them . Safisfied with my actions... I decided that it was time to go home .
After collecting my 100 Rupees reward money from the local Zamindaar ( Land Lord ) who owned the Mango Garden , I packed up my luggage ( Including the panther skin ) and my “ Old Belgian “ , before hitch hiking a ride from a friendly truck driver to the Siliguri train station .
And in no time at all , I was back in Nagpur , in the pleasant company of my girl friend , my grand father , Ponual and Old Tobin ... ready to resume work from the following week as a professional shikaree for Allwyn Cooper Limited.
I had in fact, gifted this panther skin to Kawshik’s late girl fiancé , Antora on her birthday as a present . She liked it very much . But after Antora was killed during “ Operation Search Light “ by the West Pakistani Army in the Buet University Genocide Of March 25th , 1971 .... her parents locked up all of her possessions in the attic of the family house in Bangladesh ( which used to be East Pakistan , prior to the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 . ) . After Antora’s parents had both passed away by 1999 ... her younger sister and her family decided to permanently immigrate to Switzerland. Before leaving , her sister returned the panther skin to Kawshik ... who in turn , returned it to me . A fine momento it is... of happier times for all of us .
As I conclude this article ... I find myself wondering something which I often do wonder , whenever I think about the Child Eater of Terai . Those 14 children who died after getting injured by the panther ... who actually killed them ? Did their injuries really turn septic after getting mauled by the panther ? Or was it human stupidity which actually did them in ? I have no doubt that those villagers must have considered it a common practice to “ treat “ those mauled children with cow urine. Any rational person does not even need to THINK about how infectious cow urine can really be ( especially , when applied on to the open wounds of injured children .)
There is no doubt about it that the panther was a menace , which needed to be dispatched . However , I often wonder if the villagers inadvertently had a hand in the deaths of those 14 children , as well.
I certainly hope that this article has proven enjoyable , Dear Readers . I sincerely hope to commence writing my next article day after tomorrow. But until then ...
An excellent recount. Thank you very much for such an interesting story.