The internet is flooded with responses to a recent incident wherein a leopard and dog are locked inside a toilet for over 12 hours but the predator does not attack the dog. In fact, both stay huddled together as if drawing comfort from each other. This incident has been reported from a resthouse adjacent to the Kombaru sanctuary in Karnataka.
A leopard was chasing a dog. The dog entered a toilet through a window. The toilet was locked from outside. The leopard also entered and both got stuck in the toilet. When the dog saw the leopard, it panicked and quietly sat in one corner. It did not even dare to bark. Even though the leopard was hungry and was chasing the dog, it did not eat the dog. He could have torn off the dog in one bite. But the two animals were together in different corners for almost twelve hours. During these twelve hours, the leopard was also quiet. The forest department weas informed and used a tranquilliser dart to capture the leopard.
Now the question is, why did the hungry leopard not tear off the dog when it was easily possible? The wildlife researchers responded to this question: According to them, wild animals are very sensitive to their freedom. As soon as they realize their liberty is at risk, they can feel deep sorrow, so much so that they can forget their hunger. Their natural motivation to feed the stomach begins to fade away. Freedom and happiness are inter-connected.
Senior forest official Dr Kuruvilla Thomas explained: “Hunting is a natural behaviour. But predator is also trapped and feels its life is also in danger. Hunger disappears and its entire thought process will be to escape from the situation. This happens to human beings also. You will not like to eat anything if you are too angry or fearful.” Similarly, calling it an interesting case, retired government official and renowned animal behaviouralist VK Joshi said “My guess is that in a small toilet the leopard was more worried about its own safety than to quench his hunger. Unlike tigers, leopards make a kill even when not hungry. In the instant case the fear of getting trapped perhaps kept the leopard at bay.”
Wildlife expert Mudit Gupta informed that a similar incident had taken place near Lucknow some two years back wherein a dog and leopard were trapped together and both were in panic, thus did not attack. Similarly, retired forest officer K Praveen Rao said when stuck in one place together, the topmost thought in their mind would be to find a way to escape rather than to “have lunch”. Another senior forest official, SK Awasthi, maintained that “the concern and worry of being trapped is supreme and changes the behaviour and nature of wild animals”. As per Dr RK Singh, senior veterinary officer presently posted in Meerut zoo, “This is an unusual condition where both prey and predator are trapped and are searching for an escape route. (It is third incident in which a leopard confined in a room with a dog did not attack). Moreover, the leopard might have feared some kind of retaliation from the dog as Indian leopards are mostly ambush hunters and, in this case, there was no escape route if the dog retaliated. Apart from this reason, this was unusual condition where first preference was to search for an escape route with mutual effort.” Hence, in a tight situation, even the foes stick together, and this is true for both the animals and the human beings. -TTN