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Shooting a Panther in the Jungles of Khandwa

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places

shooting-a-panther-in-the-jungles-of-khandwa

Introduction

I own a .315 Winchester self-loading rifle. The weapon is a gift to me by the Maharajah of Dewas, a princely state near Indore. He had gifted the weapon to me for my services when I had accompanied him on two big hunts for man-eating tigers. He is a friend and I often meet him when I visit Indore. The city of Indore was the capital of the state of Central India ruled by the Holkars. A Winchester is one of the top American brands as far as rifles are concerned. You can store the weapon in a case and lug it around like carrying a large briefcase.

The model that I have is no longer in production, but the weapon is greatly coveted by connoisseurs of guns. I would also like to state that I do not hunt big game, for any thrill, and basically against killing the big cats. Having set the record straight I can now relate, this eventful episode.

India is the blessed land and home to the largest number of big cats in the world. Tigers, lions, panthers, leopards, panthers, and cheetahs adorn the jungles. The tiger is found only in India and not even in Africa. The jungles of Central India are infested with panthers and this tale is about a panther



shooting-a-panther-in-the-jungles-of-khandwa

The adventure

About 12 years back, I traveled from Calcutta (Howrah) by the Calcutta Mail to Khandwa. I traveled First Class and it was a mundane journey. From there, I planned to take a taxi to Indore which is 116 km from Khandwa. The journey itself was uneventful and the train reached Khandwa at about 1 am in morning.

I had one small bag for my clothing and personal accouterments. This, I carried in one hand and in the other, I carried my briefcase with the Winchester. When I came out, I found a steady drizzle was on and no taxi was ready to go to Indore. Apart from the rain, the other objection was that it was not proper to travel in the dead of the night as all around the road were some of the thickest jungles of Madhya Pradesh.

I was a little nonplussed but a driver of a taxi took heart and agreed to drop me for an extra charge of one hundred rupees. I agreed and we set course. We soon left Khandwa far behind and now we're moving through the thick jungles of the Vindhyas. These are a range of small hills and progress was slow. Just then, there was a lurch and the car came to a halt. In fact, it veered to one side and the driver told me that he had a puncture. The car was an Ambassador manufactured by Hindustan Motors and is a copy of the old English Morris.

The rain had stopped and we both came out of the car and in the dark night. I took a small torch and shone it. I could see that the front tire had deflated. The driver opened the dickey to take out the spare wheel and the jack. But just then I heard a snarl and by instinct, I knew a panther was in the vicinity.

The driver also heard it and promptly clambered back into the car and shut the door. I knew that the panther is an intelligent animal and sooner than later he will come to the car. Panthers have been known to break the windshield as well and I knew that in case we were to move forward I would have to deal with the Panther. I went into the rear seat and opened my briefcase and took out my rifle.

I assembled the weapon in no time and got ready. The taxi driver also took heart at this and wished me luck, but he didn't come out of the car. I checked the magazine and found that I had two bullets only, as my ammo had finished and I was looking to buy some bullets at Indore.

Now the snarls became closer and I knew the panther was in the vicinity of the car. I stood outside and flashed the torch which I positioned on the bonnet of the car. Everything then happened in a flurry. In a split second, I saw a dark shape hurtling towards me. I could locate its position because of its eyes which glistened in the dark. The dark shape was the panther. He was on a tree and he leaped toward me. I fired and missed and I fired again and this time I hit the beast. He fell on the car bonnet and struggled and then died.

It was a close shave, and I thanked God that I had not lost my nerve. I hate to kill big cats, but I suppose in this case it was inevitable.

Last word

The panther lay dead on the bonnet of the Ambassador. I shouted to the driver to come help me and help me. He emerged slowly and said almost in a reverential tone, "Sir, are you a Shikari?".

"No," I laughed, " now help me lift the big cat and stuff it in the dickey."

We drove away after changing the tire, with the panther in the dickey straight to the DFO's ( District Forest Officer)office. Killing the big cats is banned and I have to justify why the panther had been shot.

Two days later the Maharajah invited me to a cocktail. He had heard of the shooting of the panther and he came up to me and we clinked glasses of single malt whiskey together. He laughed and said,'" Commander, That was a great day but I don't think the way you have related the story is true, because I think you just wanted to kill the animal for the thrill and I wish I was in your place."

I thought it prudent not to give any reply but just laughed and in one gulp both of us drank "bottoms Up" to the single malt in our glasses.

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

Peggy, thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2021:

From the sound of your account, you were lucky that you could fire a second shot. It probably saved your life as well as the taxi driver. I would never have realized that a panther would attack people who would be inside of a car.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

My dear Tom, I am pleased to read your info. I have a Winchester.315. Having die-cast models is a great hobby. Jim Corbett is a legend, he never married, died in Kenya. I have also read EM Foster books. Thank you.

tom on March 28, 2021:

my grandfather owned land in tamil nadu and kerala ,he shot several panthers and leopards which attacked our cattle,tales told by my uncle who has dbbl country,do you have winchester 73,movie win chester 73,ihave read kenneth anderson and jim corbetts books, my fathers friend had large number of books on hunting,he still owns royal enfield 350,i had till 1993 differnt models of mahindra jeeps and ambassador,now i have 250 diecast cars and planes,forest cover decreased in india,dewas maharaja private secertary em foster.sagar cannt ,gwaliorair base, one of my teaching colleagues ex iaf gwailor mirage 2000 first ground crew,now law faculty,1996 elephant attack on kalaikinda beaten by forest rangers crackers

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, glad you enjoyed the tale.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

This experience is something you will always remember. You were sure brave. I can't imagine killing a big cat like that. This is great tale, MG. Thank you for sharing your experience.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

Ravi, great to interact with you. Thanks for commenting

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 28, 2021:

Very interesting story MG. The thrill and the excitement you would have felt as the big cat fell must have been quite palpable. You have seen quite a lot MG . Thanks for sharing.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

Conrad, glad you liked the true story. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Conrad on March 28, 2021:

Great article that riveted my attention. After reading I realized it's a true tale. What a great experience.

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