The Man Eater Of Kanpur

Major Khan

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Tonight , on African Hunting Forums ... I shall be relating an incident , where we had to hunt down a most malicious monster . A man eating forest panther which had feasted on no less than 29 locals , in the area near Kanpur in the Uttar Pradesh state of India . The brute was cunning , resilient and most of all ... It was suffering from a most strange pathology .

Let us wind the clocks back , Dear Readers ... To 1966 . A time when the forests of India belonged to the it’s people , and the game of India belonged to the sports man .

EC567598-3E50-49F8-A1C9-0AC9702A7B79.jpeg


Forest panther pug marks . Photograph taken by myself .
 

Major Khan

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In the out skirts of Kanpur in December of 1965 , a young boy had been sent by his parents to fetch a bag of rice from the family grain shed ... In the evening . He never returned , back to the house . The next day , his corpse was found about 300 yards away ... Savaged to with in every inch of his flesh . The way he had been clawed and scratched , with his stomach and rib cage torn open and both his lungs punctured ... Was the clear sign that this was the work of a forest panther and NOT a royal Bengal tiger . You see ... A forest panther always tends to disembowel it’s quarry , with its hind legs . A royal Bengal tiger , on the other hand ... Does not do this . The flesh from the child’s buttocks had been gnawed to the bone - The unmistakable tell tale sign of a forest panther , which had turned man eater . And thus , began the reign of terror of the “ Man Eater Of Kanpur “ .

It was on the 3rd week of May , 1966 ... When the presence of this brute , was 1st brought to my attention. I had just returned to Nagpur at the time , having finished guiding a Turkish client on a most exciting shikar for a Himalayan Brown Bear . After I had returned , I thought it extremely unlikely that I would be guiding any more clients for the rest of the season . Shikar season was to close on the 15th of June . So , I decided to spend those last 3 weeks engaging in some personal hunting with my grand father ... Sepoy Jalaluddin Khan . Perhaps ... Securing a delicious Chinkara , Black Buck and a 4 horned Buck . And some pea fowl and Chukar .

The day after I had returned from the Himalayas , my grand father and I were enjoying lunch at a cafe named Asoka . It used to be a magnificent little place . Their mutton seekh kebabs and crispy paratha flat breads were an addiction for me . 90 % of the time I would eat at Asoka cafe ... This was what I would invariably dine on . My grand father , a gentle man with a small appetite ... Would always opt for the chicken liver on toast . Invariably , we would cap the meal off with two cups of Danish vanilla ice cream ( Which still happens to be my favorite ice cream flavor , after all these years ) . This day was no different . There used to be a radio on the counter and the news would always play on the radio .

As grand father and I were enjoying our dessert ... we heard the grim news that the “ Kanpur Ka Shaytaan “ ( Devil Of Kanpur ) had struck again , and killed it’s 28th victim . Intrigued , I asked Mr. Narayan ( The manager at Asoka ) what the news on the radio was about . Mr. Narayan told us that a vicious man eating forest panther was on the loose , in Kanpur . It had already claimed the lives of 28 villagers and the local forest department was offering a reward of 500 Rupees for the destruction of the brute . Now , 500 Rupees was a great deal of money back in 1966 . I absolutely LOVE(D) hunting forest panthers ... And the wheels in my head had begun to turn .

“ Nana “ I said eagerly “ Chulo hum ek Chita Baagh shikar kare ! “ ( Grand father , let us go and kill a forest panther ! ) . Hearing me talk in such an excited manner , grand father sighed . He replied , “ Thik heye , Beta . Chulo . “ ( Fine , boy . Let us do it ) .

And thus , we had decided to embark on yet another adventure .
 

Major Khan

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On Friday , grand father and I had arrived at Kanpur on my Land Rover Series 1 . Accompanying us , was young Ponual ( Our servant boy ) . Grand father had brought along his old .405 Winchester caliber Model 1895 lever rifle and 2 packets of 300 grain soft point cartridges . I had brought along my “ Old Belgian “ 12 Bore double barreled side by side shot gun and an assortment of Eley 12 Bore shot gun cartridges : 2.5 inch Eley spherical ball cartridges ( 20 ) , 2.75 inch Eley Alphamax AAA cartridges ( 20 ) , 3 inch Eley Alphamax magnum BB shells ( 20 ) and 2.75 inch Eley Alphamax # 6 cartridges ( 20 ) .

When we arrived at the village , we immediately began to inquire about the man eater ... By asking the locals all sorts of questions . The terror of the man eater was still very much fresh in their minds . Before we had reached Kanpur ... The brute had taken another victim , on the previous night . How ever , the corpse of the unfortunate villager had not yet been cremated . It was being kept at the local police station , and grand father wished to see the corpse . Thus , we instructed Ponual to take all of our luggage from the Land Rover to the local circuit house ( where we would all be staying ) ... While we went off to the local police station , in order to examine the corpse .

When we reached the police station , we immediately asked to see the corpse of the man eater’s latest victim . The sight of the savaged corpse greatly concerned us . Neither of us were terrified . How ever , we were both extremely worried . The corpse was not that of a woman . It was not that of a child . It was the corpse of a full grown man , who must have weighed at least 170 pounds . The poor wretch was missing an eye and both ears . His throat had been ripped out . His rib cage had been torn open , and his lungs had been punctured . He had been disemboweled , and his entrails were still jutting out of the nasty hole in his abdomen ... Oddly enough , like a link of sausages . What concerned us , was that this corpse showed symptoms of being DRAGGED quite a bit ... Before the man eater had commenced feasting up on it . Since this corpse weighed at least 170 pounds , the forest panther would ... Indeed have to be an extremely heavy 1 , in order to drag the corpse . The local police constable had further confirmed our suspicions . He told us that the corpse had been found , roughly 40 yards from where the man ( A local tea vendor ) had been found .

Grand Father and I spent the rest of the day , asking the locals about where each of the man eater’s victims had been found . The answers were quite disconcerting. This forest panther had feasted on men , women and children ... Indiscriminately . This was a stark contrast to most man eating forest panthers ... Who always opt for targeting the weakest of human beings , who are least likely to offer resistance ( Such as children and elderly women ) . This man eater had also attacked several of it’s victims near the local water well and the grain sheds of their houses .

This piece of information came across to us , as rather odd . Forest panthers are cunning brutes , no doubt . But this particular man eater was displaying almost human levels of tactical intelligence . It had some how come to figure out that human beings would invariably be bound to go near wells and grain houses ... And it had learnt to exploit this knowledge .

But this also meant that we could exploit ... What the man eater had learnt to exploit .

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My grand , old man eater medicine . Photograph taken by myself .
 
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Major Khan

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The sun had set ... And it was time for grand father , me and Ponual to get to action . We had instructed all of the locals to refrain from stepping outside , once the sun had set ... Until we had disposed of the man eater . A plan was made . We had resolved to use the corpse of the most recent victim , as bait .

I had shot a 4 horned buck earlier during the day , with an Eley Alphamax AAA cartridge ( These creatures could be found in abundance , near the various streams around Kanpur ... Back in those days ) . We had kept half of the venison for our personal consumption . The other half ... We chopped into little pieces and stuffed in to the stomach of the corpse . We cleaned all of the wounds on the corpse and Ponual dressed it up , with an old shirt of his ( The shirt must always have human scent on it . So it must never be a new 1 ) . We had then , propped it up against the well ... In a sitting position . My grand father and Ponual were to hide on the roof top of the local fruit vendor’ shop . I was to remain on the ground level . Earlier during the day , Ponual and I had dug a hole in the ground ... Roughly 30 feet away from the well . The top of the hole was covered up with a “ Lid “ made from a thatch of hay . I was to hide inside this “ Pit Blind “ .

Thus , all was set ... And our night had begun . All night , I sat inside that congested uncomfortable “ Pit Blind “ ... My eyes glued to the well . We waited , and we waited , and we waited . My “ Old Belgian “ lay across my lap , loaded with Eley 2.5 inch Spherical Ball cartridges . How ever , the man eater never showed .

The next day , all three of us slept until 4 PM in the afternoon . We were all dead tired . We kept the human corpse inside a large ice box , so that the ice could prevent our “ Bait “ from decomposing too much . At night , we all took our previous positions and waited again . But it was all in vain .

For the next 4 nights , we lay in wait the entire night ... Hoping that the man eater would come . But to no avail. On the 5th night , how ever ...


Fortune would finally smile up on us .
51BC94F6-BEEB-4022-9229-0837CC3C7210.png

4 horned buck , far left . Photograph taken by myself .
 

Major Khan

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Anxiously , I was waiting inside that hole in the ground . I was constantly keeping watch on the corpse . By now , I was beginning to lose hope . Would the man eater show up , at all ?

At around 3 AM at night , I saw some thing ... A dark mammalian form slowly creeping towards the direction of the well . It was the forest panther. I knew that if I was seeing the man eater , then my grand father and Ponual were seeing it as well . The brute drew closer and stopped near a banyan tree . It began to clean it’s claws on the bark of the banyan tree ... An act which forest panthers are always wont to do , right before attacking their prey . I smiled in satisfaction . Yes . The brute would soon be mine . The brute drew closer and closer . When it would come with in 30 feet , I was to do what I had mastered by now - Leap up , flick on the pencil torch light which was attached to the fore end of my “ Old Belgian “ ( With the aid of masking tape ) , shine the beam on the brute’s head and then , shoot him right between the eyes as he turned to look at me . Every thing was going according to plan and I fully expected every thing to be perfectly routine . Unfortunately , when hunting dangerous game , no matter how well 1 takes preparation ... Things some times go awry , no matter what .

The brute suddenly stopped in its tracks . It stared at the corpse ... And began to bound AWAY from the bait ! Panicking , I leapt up from the hole , while simultaneously flicking on the pencil torch and shouldering my shot gun . I gave it a quick left and right , in the hind quarters . It roared in agonizing pain , as a 3rd bullet ripped into it's side from above . Grand father had taken a shot at the brute from the roof , with his .405 Winchester Model 1895 lever rifle ... As well . The resilient forest panther still managed to make it in to the thickets .

I shouted to my grand father and Ponual that I was going to spoor the wounded man eater , through the thickets . I opened the breech of my “ Old Belgian “ and turned it up side down , in order to dump out the empty cartridges ... On to the ground . I hastily slipped 2 fresh Eley 2.5 inch spherical ball cartridges in to the chambers of the shotgun and closed it shut . Then , I rushed after the brute . I was using the illumination from the pencil torch light to follow the blood trail of the wounded forest panther . It had sustained considerable injuries . The blood trail was thick , and was indicative of some serious wounds . I pressed on , leery of being ambushed by the brute at the most unexpected moment .

Suddenly , it occurred to me that the blood trail had ceased . The man eater had to be some where , nearby . I looked around , cautiously . And then , I had heard it . A low guttural growl of rage . It was coming from the left of me . Instinctively, I swirled to my left , snapping the shotgun up to my shoulder in a single swift motion . The enraged brute charged , right at me ... it’s fangs bared and it’s claws poised . I pulled my left trigger , just as the man eater was with in a mere 2 feet away from the muzzles of my “ Old Belgian “ . “ Boom ! “ went the left barrel of the grand old gun , as the 1 ounce spherical ball of hardened ball blew clean in to the region right between the brute’s 2 eyes ... smashing right through the skull an in to the creature’s brain . And that was that . The slain brute lay at my feet ... It’s life permanently extinguished . Now , it was time to conduct a post mortem .

11F010BF-85CC-44ED-A5E0-76F7C68993B1.png

The slain Man Eater Of Kanpur . Photograph taken by local police constable .
 

Major Khan

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A post mortem had proven to be most educational . My 1st 2 spherical ball bullets had broken the right hind leg of the brute . Grand father’s 300 grain ICI Kynoch brand soft point bullet had ripped in to the man eater’s stomach . The remnants of my 3rd spherical ball bullet was found inside the brain of the forest panther . The brute was an old male , which weighed 178 pounds . Strangely enough , the animal did not appear to possess any signs of previous injuries ... A common occurrence with most man eating forest panthers .

My grand father speculated that the brute might have turned in to a man eater by coming across a human corpse in the forests around Kanpur and taking a few bites of the strange new “ Meat “ out of curiosity . No doubt , this was what had gotten the forest panther addicted to the flesh of man . At the time , I did not think much of my grand father’s theory . But what he speculated , may well have been pin point accurate . In 1981 , agricultural land developers had cut down a patch of forest around that Kanpur village . They found enough skeletal remains of human beings to put together 3 dozen corpses . Forensic research later determined that all of the skeletons were all of young females , and that the young women had all been murdered , dismembered and left in the forests in the mid 1960s . Till this date , no body has ever been able to determine exactly who killed those 3 dozen local women . Perhaps , it was a serial killer . Perhaps , it was a group of cultists . No body knew . India had ( And still has ) it’s fair share of both . But in my mind , the forest panther coming across 1 of these dismembered female corpses ... Was doubtlessly what had gotten him to begin craving the flesh of man .

The next morning , the 3 of us deposited the skin of the slain forest panther at the office of the local forest department and we collected the 500 Rupees reward money ... Before departing from Kanpur to Nagpur , on my Land Rover Series 1 . On the way back home , I wondered why the man eater had suddenly become alert up on reaching the corpse which we had set up as bait . Never in my life ( BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THIS INCIDENT ) did I EVER have another man eating forest panther get suspicious of a human corpse , which I had set up as bait in order to entice it . Did the forest panther actually RECOGNIZE the corpse up on getting close to it ? Did it realize that it had attacked and fatally mauled this person , previously ? Did it suddenly realize , that is was walking in to a trap ?

Perhaps , we will never know . But what I DO know ... Is that the Man Eater Of Kanpur was not your average forest panther .

THE END

5E76D4FA-F82E-4E0B-9E20-AF688BCD93DE.png

Me ( Center ) with another forest panther , which I had to follow in to the thickets and dispatch . Photograph taken by Tobin Stakkatz .
 

WAB

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Excellent adventure Major. Thank you for sharing!
 

1dirthawker

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major khan,

i will admit, you have balls of stainless steel!!! running after a man eater that was JUST shot! i would say, a bit reckless as well, but at this time in your hunting panthers, i suspect you knew how to do it best. well done! and of course a hairy, scary story!!
 

Major Khan

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Awesome story!! Thanks for telling it!! I'm new to the forum so I'm gonna see what other tales you have told!!!! Thanks for the great read!!!
Wishing you a most warm welcome to 1 of the greatest hunting related forums on God’s Green Earth , R.M.C . I believe that you shall be most happy , here . And thank you so much for your kind words .
 

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