DEHRADUN, India – Kamla Devi, 56, is recovering in hospital after killing a leopard that attacked her as she tended her fields armed only with a sickle.
The woman told Indian broadcaster CNN-IBN that she battled with the leopard for half an hour on Sunday morning before finally delivering a killer blow with her sickle. "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," said the woman.
Devi, who was widowed a few years ago, told the Hindustan Times daily she was "terrified" when the leopard attacked, but was determined not to succumb. "I gathered my courage to fight back. I promised myself that this is not my last day here," she told the paper.
According to AFP the woman grabbed the ear of the attacking leopard with her right hand and kept swinging at the animal with the sickle in her left. "Hearing Devi's screams for help, villagers of Rudraprayag district came running but the leopard was dead by the time they reached her," witness Jagdish Singh said. Doctor Rakesh Rawat said Devi's injuries, which include fractured hands and deep cuts on her body, were not life threatening and she was recovering.
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 World Wild Fund (WWF) called for better management of forests and other habitats for India's leopard population, which numbered 1,150 at a 2011 census.