INDIA

Armed only with a sickle, Indian widow, 56, fights and kills leopard

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 10:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 3:39pm
AFP

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A 56-year-old Indian woman is recovering in hospital after winning a life-and-death battle with a leopard. Armed only with a sickle, she fought off the big cat after it attacked her as she was working in a field.

Kamla Devi told Indian broadcaster, CNN-IBN, she fought the leopard for half an hour before landing a fatal blow.

"The leopard lunged at me many times and we fought for a long time," she told the channel from her hospital bed in the northern state of Uttarakhand, her arms bandaged and a livid scar across her right cheek.

"I got hold of my sickle and fought with it. That's when the leopard was killed."

Devi, who was widowed a few years ago, told the Hindustan Times newspaper she was terrified when the leopard attacked, but was determined not to succumb.

"I gathered my courage to fight back," she told the newspaper. "I promised myself that this is not my last day here."

The leopard eventually gave up and fled. Villagers later found it lying dead on a rock near the village. "Its teeth were all broken," Sohan Lal, a forest officer in the area told The Wall Street Journal.

The leopard was a three-and-a-half-year-old female, which measured more than 190 centimetres from nose to tail, the Journal report said.

Leopard attacks are relatively common in rural areas of India, although it is rare for the leopard to come off worse.

In 2009 a nine-year-old boy in the same state fought off a leopard that had attacked his sister.

The animals are increasingly venturing into populated areas as their habitat becomes depleted.

Video footage from Mumbai last year showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block foyer and snatching a small dog.

Conservation group WWF has called for better management of forests and other habitats for India's leopard population.

A 2011 census recorded there were 1,150 leopards in India.