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A 19-YEAR- old man from Hwange grappled with a leopard and lived to tell the tale after his dogs attacked and killed the predator.
Mr Silent Dube of Chidobe Area under Chief Mvuthu, suffered deep cuts on his face following the attack on Friday at around 5PM.
He said the big cat attacked him from behind and slashed his face with its razor sharp claws.
Mr Dube said the area is infested with leopards which are suspected to be straying from the Hwange National Park.
“The leopard attacked me from behind. It raked my face with its claws and blood started gushing out,” said Mr Dube.
He said he fell to the ground and the snarling animal tried to go for his neck with its fangs.
Mr Dube said he fought to keep the leopard’s mouth away from his neck while desperately holding onto its paws to prevent it from using its claws again.
“The flowing blood from my face partially blinded me and made the leopard slippery and therefore difficult to hold onto,” he said. “When my dogs saw me on the ground wrestling with the leopard, which was on top of me, they sprang to my defence,” said Mr Dube.
“The leopard let go off me. I rolled away and saw it fighting with the dogs. It was a fierce battle. I was too weak to get up and run away. I feared that it would overpower the dogs and return to finish me off,” he said.
The herdsman said he was not sure how long the fight between his dogs and the leopard lasted.
“You can imagine my relief when the dogs killed the leopard. It’s a miracle they survived with minor scratches given the way the leopard was spitting, snarling and attacking them,” said Mr Dube.
He said he dragged himself to the nearest homestead and villagers rushed him to a doctor.
Hwange Rural District Council deputy chairperson, Matthew Mleya, said it was rare for leopards to attack people as they normally preyed on small animals like impala and squirrels. “The young man is lucky as it just tore off some flesh from his left cheek and on the side of his mouth. It also injured him on his left eye. He has his dogs to thank,” said Clr Muleya.
Mr Dube who was rushed to a private doctor in Victoria Falls, is now recovering at home.
Online reports suggest leopards are shy and normally keep away from human beings.
However, sickly, injured, desperately hungry leopards or those whose hunting grounds have been invaded by humans, have been known to kill people.
The “Leopard of Panar” was reputed to have killed and eaten at least 400 people over a period spanning several years in Kumaon District of Northern India in the early 20th century.
It was said to have been wounded by a poacher and left unable to hunt normal prey. By Whinsley Masara, source-chronicle