The Urban Man Eater

Major Khan

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Tonight , l will share an account to all of my dear readers about a man eating panther which certainly knew how to rack up a body count - 20 people dead and 7 injured in the 46 days that it terrorized the village of Takalghat , in the state of Maharashtra, India. It was also unusual among all the man eating panthers which l had killed in my entire career , because it simply did not fear people at all , even in large groups. Let us begin , dear readers.
Our story begins in April of 1968 , 1 of the hottest months of the year , in India. I was in Nagpur at the time , having successfully finished guiding a French client for a royal Bengal tiger shikar . So l had a week free , before another client would come to Allwyn Cooper Limited , on the 23rd.
I was using these free days to spend time with my girl friend and we had gone to an ice cream parlor 1 day , when news about the man eater first came to me . A vanilla ice cream cone used to cost 20 paise back in those days and a chocolate ice cream cone used to cost 25 paise back then . While we were enjoying our ice creams , we were casually chatting with the owner of the ice cream parlor , a kind , elderly gentleman named Mr. Gupta .
Mr . Gupta was talking about how 1 of his relative's children in Takalghat ( a village a few hours away from Napgur ) had been killed by a man eating panther . My shikaree's instincts got the better of me and l asked Mr. Gupta more about this panther . Mr. Gupta told us that the panther had killed over a dozen people and that the authorities were offering a big reward for the destruction of this brute . However , he did not know many other details about this man eating menace. No matter .

I began to ask around and l soon gathered enough information about this man eater . It was a forest panther , which had claimed 19 lives ( till now ) and the local authorities were offering 1000 rupees for it's death. This was considerably more than the average amount which local authorities would typically offer for the destruction of man eaters and nuisance animals back in those days.
Knowing that l had some free time before my next client came to Allwyn Cooper Limited for royal Bengal tiger shikar , l decided to try my luck in hunting down this man eater .
I asked my good friend and shikaree partner , the German American , Tobin Stakkatz if he would like to accompany me in hunting this brute down .
Old Tobin always had a love for challenges and a desire to save innocent people from getting harmed. He immediately agreed and we made plans to visit Takalghat .

In the next part of this 3 part article , l will relate what we found when we had reached Takalghat and the preparations which we had to take .

Below , l have provided a photograph taken from the internet of an Indian forest panther , as l do not wish to reveal the photograph of the panther killed by us , until the climax of this article.
Screenshot_20191220-035550_01_01.png
 

Mort Hill

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My friend, you spin such a great story. I feel like I am waiting for the next episode of the Star Wars Madalorian on the Disney Channel. Your next episode can not come soon enough! Popcorn :)
 

Major Khan

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Tobin and l prepared for our trip to Takalghat . I took my old Belgian 12 calibre double barreled shot gun and 8 cartridges of Eley Alphamax Lethal Ball ( 2.75 inch ) . I also took along 10 cartridges of Eley Alphamax triple A , in case l wanted to shoot any geese or crane for the pot , and 10 cartridges of Eley Alphamax no. 6 shot for jungle fowl .
By now , Lethal Ball cartridges were getting increasingly difficult for my clients to find and bring for me . Eley had stopped manufacturing new Lethal Ball cartridges in 1958 , but massive stocks of cartridges were still available for sale for many years to come ( fortunately for me ) . By 1968 , however , the sources were finally starting to dry up and l had to economize my shots fired .
Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of my old Belgian shot gun and a photograph taken from the internet of an Eley Alphamax Lethal Ball bullet , removed from the cartridge case.
FB_IMG_1575727196911.jpg

Screenshot_20191208-062004_01.png


Tobin took his Fabrique Nationale .423 Mauser bolt rifle , along with 15 RWS cartridges , loaded with 347 grain metal covered solid bullets .
Below l have provided a photograph taken from the internet of an FN .423 Mauser bolt rifle , for reference .
Screenshot_20191201-015804_01_01.png


We took our shikar licenses , fire arms licenses and a few other supplies and a spare set of clothes for each of us and we set off next morning by Tobin's jeep to Takalghat . It took us merely an hour or so to reach the village of Takalghat .
Upon arriving there , we received the grim news that the panther had claimed yet another victim the previous night . It was a delivery boy who used to deliver groceries to the local chandler's shop .
Tobin and l had an opportunity to examine the unfortunate young boy's corpse before his family cremated his corpse . He was not more than 13 or 14 perhaps and he might have had a full life ahead of him . He had been bitten in over 30 places by the panther and was savagely clawed across the chest so badly that his rib cage had been ripped open and his lungs were punctured . His throat also had a massive chunk of flesh ripped out from it and the jugular vein had been severed . No doubt , that if the punctured lungs did not kill the poor boy , then the severed jugular vein certainly did .
The wound patterns on the boy's corpse indicated that it was a very heavy forest panther . 7 people had been unfortunate enough to cross paths with this brute , but they were fortunate enough to survive ( albeit badly wounded ) . Tobin and l decided to speak to the survivors about this menace . As we interviewed each survivor 1 by 1 , some new information had come to light , which was quite disconcerting , yet at the same time , it helped us understand our adversary .
This was a most plucky panther . It was coming right into the midst of the town town centre after sun down and attacking it's victims . It was even attacking villagers if they were in groups of 4 or 5 people . On 1 occasion it had actually killed 2 villagers during 1 attack .
No body knew why this panther had suddenly started attacking people , nor did they know where it came from . It seemed to have come out of the blue .
But what was certain was that this rascal had refined his palate from cheetal venison to human flesh . And he had to be stopped. Some of the survivors had lost an eye . Some lost an ear . Some were clawed badly across the face , chest and stomach . But all had been very deeply scarred , both physically and psychologically.

In the next part of this article which l will write tomorrow , l will detail how we actually engaged the brute , along with a photograph of the monster .
 
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Ridgewalker

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Poton, I’m anxiously waiting the hunt for this vicious panther! It seems he is extremely brave going into the town center and attacking a group of humans!
 

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Panther and leopard are the same species, Panthera pardus. It's just that what they call a leopard in Africa, they often call a panther in Asia.
Jaguars often have a spot within the rosette, leopards only very rarely. The rosettes of jaguars are also larger. Jaguars are also more bulky and have, relatively, bigger heads. Another clue is the tail, which is shorter and thicker in a jaguar, which is very clear in this image.
If you google for leopard pictures you'll notice that there a bunch of jaguar (and sometimes even cheetahs) pictures in there. So don't always believe what google presents you!
 

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We took preparations to hunt down this brute and the first thing to do was to consider our options. Now , if any of my dear readers have read any of my previous articles about shooting panthers in India , then you will know that the typical method of shooting panthers back in those days was to use live bait ( usually a goat tied to a tree ) to lure them towards the shikaree at night. However , this method would not work on a " Dedicated man eater " ( a panther who had gotten so fond of consuming human flesh that it ignored any other quarry except man ) .
Given that this man eater had killed and consumed 20 people , it goes without saying that this brute clearly eschewed venison and mutton in favor of human flesh . Therefore , we had to use a different method . We had a few options :
1) We could drive back to Nagpur and visit the medical college , hoping to find a fresh corpse to use as bait. This option was rather hit or miss . The reason for this was that it had be a fresh corpse in which putrefaction had not yet begun ( preferably the best human corpses to use to this task would be the ones where not even rigor mortis had set in ). There was no guarantee that we could actually find such a corpse in Nagpur which was more than an hour away from Takalghat .
2) We could set up a dummy in the hope that the panther would come to investigate it out of curiosity . We had used this method before , on a man eating panther and we had been successful .
This would be very quick for us to make and also spared us from having to drive back to Nagpur , holding on to the slim hope that we might find a corpse suitable to use as bait.
Taking all these factors into consideration , Tobin and l thought it best to pursue the 2nd option .

We borrowed a scare crow from the villagers and dressed it in a fatuwa ( a coarse linen short sleeve shirt of sorts , worn by poor Indian villagers ) and a lunghee ( a cotton loin cloth worn by poor Indian villagers ) belonging to 1 of the local villagers . We especially took care to stipulate to the villagers that the clothes had to be USED clothes , so that the scent of human flesh remained on the clothes.
We then decided to stuff the dummy with some meat , to make the smell of the dummy more attractive to the panther .

I went out to the edge of the village and towards the forest , where Tobin and l had seen some 4 horned bucks feeding on the vegetation , during our drive towards Takalghat from Nagpur . I saw a 4 horned buck of reasonable size , which looked to have good meat on it .
Slipping in a brace of Eley Alphamax triple A cartridges ( 44 pellets to the cartridge) into the breech of my old Belgian shot gun and closing it , l stalked the 4 horned buck very closely and took aim . I gave it my right barrel ( modified choke ) at a distance of 20 yards and that dropped the buck . Nothing settles a 4 horned buck , like 44 pellets of English triple A .
Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of a 4 horned buck which we had hunted once ( albeit not the 1 which l had shot on the occasion which l write about ) .
The 4 horned buck is on the far left.



Screenshot_20191201-050937_01_01_01.png


We stuffed the interior of the dummy with raw meat from the 4 horned buck and the dummy was ready .

We also began to look at the trees near the village to see if we could find any marks of panther claws on the tree barks.
The Indian panther will always clean it's claws on a tree bark , before it kills an animal which it has within it's sight. And the marks of panther claws on trees , are a very good way for shikarees to know which route a panther may be using .
Indeed , we found quite a few trees which bore the marks of panther claws on them , in no time , that day .

Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of a tree bark bearing the marks of panther claws . However , the photograph is not from that day , but rather another shikar .
IMG_20191211_005017_01_01_01.jpg

We now were able to gauge which general direction the panther would typically use , to get into the town .

Tobin and l ordered the villagers to stay inside their houses that night , while we both were to wait on top of the village water tank , in an attempt to get the drop on our adversary . The dummy was set into place , as if it was sitting upright.
Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of the dummy which we had set up that day .

The dummy's head can be seen on the left side . On the right side , the ladder leading up to the village water tower tank , can be seen.
Screenshot_20191201-080538_01_01.png


And thus , our long night began .

In the next ( and penultimate part of this article ) l will relate the actual confrontation with the man eater. I will finish the story by tonight .

By the way , l see a great deal of positive comments on the article already . I will reply to all of my dear readers , as soon as l complete the article , as l wish to maintain a chronological order .
 

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If he reads my comment he will correct himself, I know jaguars, and I know leopards/panthers, what he posted is a jaguar.

Stephen, even though you are correct that the picture IS a picture of a Jaguar, you are being very rude to a man who is gracious enough to take the time and effort to give us all a glimpse into the past...a time that is gone forever. Major Khan has seen and done things that will never be repeated. Who cares if he posted a pic of a Jaguar? Give him some respect and either read his story or don't.

PS: FWIW, you stated that "I know Leopards and I know Jaguars" but YOU need to do your homework because you don't know what you are talking about. Leopards and Jaguar are NOT the same "species" as you posted. They are a totally different animal. Leopard is Panthera Pardus and Jaguar is Panthera Onca. Panther was/is a term given to black Leopards.

Let's not derail this thread any longer so please don't respond.
 
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Major Khan

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It was a most intense night . The entire village was pitch dark while the dummy sat upright . Even though the lights in the houses were turned off , we knew that the villagers were awake inside , anxious , nauseous and fearful. We had ordered them that under no circumstances were they to step out of their houses no matter what happened outside. Waiting in that water tower was a different type of hell . The mosquitoes were very troublesome pests . I had a pencil torch light taped to the barrels of my Belgian shot gun . Tobin had a similar pencil torch light taped to the muzzle of his FN .423 Mauser bolt rifle . We had a hurricane lamp near us , but wrapped it in newspaper to keep the light as dim as possible. Tobin and l each took turns to stay awake . Tobin was drinking hot Nestle coffee from a thermos flask , a habit he had developed to keep himself awake ( due to the caffeine ) during our nocturnal shikars.
It was roughly quarter past 4 in the morning , when Tobin woke me up. He motioned to me to look yonder . True enough , it was the man eater .
Have any of you ever felt ( while facing a dangerous animal ) that the brute looks bigger than he actually is ? That is how l felt by seeing that panther. It looked huge . Almost , as big as a royal Bengal tiger ( of course , it actually was not , but adrenaline does strange things to 1’s nerves ) . We saw the panther coming towards the direction of the dummy. As it got closer , we saw it lazily swipe it’s claws on a wooden fence ; the characteristic signal that the panther is getting ready for making a kill.
Tobin and l knew exactly what to do . I had a shot gun , loaded with Lethal Ball cartridges , while Tobin had a .423 Mauser rifle. My gun was not accurate over 30 yards , while Tobin’s rifle was accurate out to 200 yards or thereabouts. Therefore , we decided that ( rather than let the panther draw close to shot gun range and risk letting it realize that his next meal was a dummy ) , Tobin should take a shot at it with his rifle.
Tobin carefully raised his rifle to his shoulder and aimed at the out line of the brute . He flicked on the pencil torch light attached to the muzzle of his .423 Mauser . As the startled creature stared at the light , Tobin fired at it’s chest , full frontal , in the blink of any eye. The 347 grain metal covered solid bullet plowed clean through the panther . He fell , but was up in a second again and dashed towards the forest , as if he had merely been knocked down . Tobin and l rushed down the water tower and ran to where the panther had been shot . It was definitely hit . There was a considerable amount of blood to track . But now , we were clearly worried. We had to follow a wounded panther into the thickets , which is a professional shikaree’s worst night mare.
I turned on the pencil torch light attached to my Belgian shot gun , and we both began to follow the blood trail , as we ventured deeper and deeper into the thickets. As we went further , the blood tracks became harder to follow. Mind you , neither of us were trackers. We always had professional Shawtaal trackers to do the tracking for us. But now , we were all alone , by ourselves.
Besides , following blood tracks at 4 AM at night , using nothin , but a small pencil torch light to illuminate blood spots on the Indian forest floor , is not quite the easiest thing to do . Nevertheless , as Tobin always said “ A real hunter always finishes the job “ .
While following the blood tracks , we were getting into thicker and thicker brush for the next half hour or so .
Suddenly , we heard a snarl coming from my right side . Spinning 90 degrees , l saw the panther charging at us , claws poised and fangs bared . Instinctively , l snapped the shot gun to my shoulder and pulled the left trigger , while the panther was merely 5 feet away from the muzzles . The gun roared , as the 16 calibre Lethal Ball bullet blew clean through the brute’s nasal cavity and split to pieces inside the creature’s head . The notorious animal dropped at our feet , with blood and brains oozing out of the hole in it’s head. The man eater of Takalghat , which had claimed 20 lives and inflicted life long injuries on 7 people , had breathed it’s last . And at a good time too , for the first rays of sun light were dawning upon us.

The villagers rejoiced at the death of the forest panther and it’s corpse was displayed on the railing of the town mayor’s office. I used my camera to take a photograph of the slain brute . I have provided the photograph below .
Screenshot_20191220-003933_01_01_01_01_01_01.png

It was a heavy forest panther. 181 pounds .
In the next and final part of this article , l will make some reflections on this most nerve racking shikar .
 

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Poton and Kawshik, I've been remiss in not saying something that I've been thinking about for the past couple of months. It is an American expression of admiration so please don't be offended.

"YOU GUYS HAVE MORE BALLS THAN A BRASS MONKEY."

Some people would think that going into the bush, at night, after a wounded Leopard with a flashlight is nuts!
 

Major Khan

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We did a post mortem of the creature and we saw that Tobin’s 347 grain solid metal covered bullet had blown a a clean hole through the panther and raked it from end to end . It had even ruptured a chunk of the panther’s heart. An yet , it was still full of fight , half an hour later , when Tobin and l had to face it’s charge in the thickets.
Even though , Tobin was my best friend and a far better shikaree than l could ever dream of being , it is my belief that if Tobin had used a soft point expanding bullet instead of a solid metal covered bullet for that shot on the panther , then he would have killed it far more swiftly ( perhaps even , then and there ), because the soft point bullet would have expanded and opened up a larger wound cavity inside the brute’s vital organs . However , my friend did not trust soft point bullets at all , so what to do ? I do not blame him 1 bit , because the .423 Mauser soft point bullets from RWS used to be very foul things back in those days and known to disintegrate all too easily ( I some times still imagine what his reaction would be like , if he ever was able to see a Swift A frame soft point bullet in his life time ).

We found another unusual thing about this panther . He was completely unblemished. There were no injuries on him , which we typically associate with panthers who become man eaters. Usually , conventional wisdom dictates that a panther turns man eater , due to some injury , like a a wound from a shikaree’s bullet or getting pricked by the quills of a porcupine or getting hit by the tusks of a boar , or something of that sort . However , there were no such marks on this panther . He had apparently turned man eater , for no reason what so ever . Perhaps , just like normal men and evil men , there are also normal animals and evil animals . My learned colleague and fellow forum member , Sgt. Kawshik Rahman certainly seems to think so , at least as far as crocodiles are concerned. And l am inclined to agree.

About 2 weeks later , when my girlfriend and l were having dinner with Kawshik , his parents and Kawshik ‘s girl friend , Antora ( May Her Soul Rest In Peace ) at Kawshik’s family home , I related this story to them at the dinner table.
Antora , being extremely well read told us that she had read a book written by the Maharajah of Kooch Bihar which mentioned that some female panthers who become man eaters , raise their cubs to become man eaters from birth as well .
As we pondered about this possibility , it made a great deal of sense ( about 1 year later , l would actually end up discovering this for myself ) . Perhaps the man eater of Takalghat had been raised a man eater ever since it’s birth by it’s mother . We will never truly know why it had suddenly developed a fondness for human flesh and chosen to target the people of Takalghat just like that , in the summer of 1968. But it did.
I hope that this article has proven enjoyable. I will now slowly respond to all the kind feed back from my dear readers on this site.
 

Major Khan

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My friend, you spin such a great story. I feel like I am waiting for the next episode of the Star Wars Madalorian on the Disney Channel. Your next episode can not come soon enough! Popcorn :)
I hope that you love the rest of the story , Mort Hill. I have completed it right now. Thank you for appreciating my article from the beginning.
 

Major Khan

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Poton, I’m anxiously waiting the hunt for this vicious panther! It seems he is extremely brave going into the town center and attacking a group of humans!
Thank you so much , Ridgewalker . I have completed the story now and l hope that you enjoy the rest of it. Your speculation is disturbingly accurate.
 

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