Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unusual deaths amongst the Felidae--

Few organisms are as often associated with grace, grandeur, and grit as those belonging to the Felidae. And, so much as they can be said to hold those traits in life, so too may they may hold them in death. However, being wild animals that are frequently exposed to a wide variety of often unpredictable conditions, they may be met with a demise that is somewhat unbecoming of their notoriously feral reputation. 

Two such instances were reported by Frank Nicholls in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society in the early 1950s.

Imagine, if you will, that you are in the jungles of India. The temperature is sweltering, and the humidity is complimentarily oppressive. You yawn and stretch, taking a break from the seemingly never-ending trail that you have been following, and see a woman walking towards a stone well. Pleased to have some degree of human company, you saunter towards her, but you quickly pause when you hear the sharp snap of a twig.  Looking for the source of the unexpected sound, your eyes are drawn to a nearby cluster of vegetation, and are met with the face of the most iconic organism in all of India. 

The tiger lunges forward with such speed and ferocity that you are rendered speechless. It seems to close the gap between the woman and itself in an instant, and leaps into the air towards her. By some great stroke of luck, the woman bends down to retrieve some much-needed water from the well. And, to the tiger's misfortune (and your own astonishment), you see the tiger plunge into the well and out of sight.


The next day, while wandering a nearby labor camp, you hear a great commotion, as though though a lion were caught in a blender mid-roar. You run towards the unnerving cacophony, and see a leopard lying on its side, with a pile of blood pooled immediately in front of him. 

As you lower yourself for a closer look, you gasp in astonishment. Inside the leopard's mouth, as still as the leopard itself, you see the back half of a domestic cat. As well as you can surmise, the leopard had attempted to predate upon the fierce creature, and had been killed by it while it was struggling for survival inside its gaping maw. 

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