Mystery Animal Kills 3

D. Momaya/Creative Commons

A man-eating animal has attacked four people in India--but what kind of animal?

Meerut villages on edge as mystery animal kills 3 - Indian Express

"Three women have been killed and one seriously injured in attacks by a wild animal.

However, it is still not clear whether the tormentor is a leopard or hyena or stray dogs. While villagers claim that it is a leopard, Divisional Forest Officer(DFO) Lalit Kumar Verma said it could be either a hyena or a group of wild or stray dogs since no pug marks could be collected."

The photo shows the distinctive pugmark of a striped hyena--exactly the kind of evidence the authorities need to solve this mystery. 


  1. Or wolves? I'm not certain as to the exact limits of the range of the Indian wolf, but if they're found in that region, I'd peg them as looking good for it. Something doesn't add up here; the way a leopard generally kills--a quick, lethal bite to the head or neck--versus the messy but equally effective eating-alive method of canids and hyenas would seem to be a good way to differentiate based on circumstantial evidence alone.

  2. Would be interesting if it was dholes for a change. Although probably not good for their rep.

  3. If I'm reading my maps correctly, this district, which is in Uttar Predesh, does indeed lie in wolf country. I could also buy dholes as at least having scavenged the bodies after something else killed them.

    A few possibilities come to mind. It may be that the government is reticent to say anything definitive until it has its management plan in hand. Depending on which animal is involved, the government may have to pay death benefits.

    It's also possible that the answer is fairly clear to government biologists, but disputed by locals. As is the case everywhere else, people who live near wildlife aren't necessarily well informed about it.

  4. True. Even Kipling, writing solely for entertainment and a little lax with his factual info at times, had occasion to note this: in the Mowgli story: "Tiger! Tiger!" where Mowgli goes down to the village, it is pointed out how Buldeo, the old hunter, tells numerous howlers around the fire in the town square...which Mowgli, of course, knows are transparently false.

    1. And later Buldeo accuses Mowgli of being a weretiger himself :D

    2. Another Kipling story for my list. I recently read "The Undertakers" at James's suggestion and enjoyed it. I've also recently read a pretty good were-tiger story by Hugh Clifford, presented as folklore from Malaysia.


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