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Indian woman, armed only with farm tool, fights off leopard

From Sugam Pokharel and Omar Khan, CNN
updated 12:47 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Leopard attacked Kalama Devi on Sunday morning in isolated field
  • She repeatedly hit it with a sickle for half an hour until she was able to get away
  • Exhausted and bleeding, she limped one kilometer to a nearby village for help
  • Villagers found the leopard dead at the scene of the reported attack

New Delhi (CNN) -- The fight is said to have lasted a half-hour and pitted a leopard against a woman armed only with a farm tool in an isolated field in India.

Kalama Devi, at 54 years old, won.

Devi, a widow and mother of one, has been telling her story from a hospital bed in Srinagar, in Uttarakhand state, where she's being treated for fractures, swelling, scratches and cuts to her skull that have required 50 stitches.

"I held the leopard with my hands, it then bit my hand and then left it. ... Both my hands are in immense pain and I am not able to lift them up," she said.

According to the doctor who's treating her, the leopard pounced about 10 a.m. Sunday as Devi, who had been cutting grass with a sickle, walked through a field in the village of Koti Badma, in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand.

It fractured her left hand first, so with her right hand clutching the sickle she repeatedly hit the animal -- for about 30 minutes.

Exhausted and bleeding

She said she kept pounding the leopard until she ran out of energy, then, exhausted and bleeding, limped one kilometer to a nearby village to seek help, Dr. Abdul Rahul at the HNB Base Hospital in Srinagar told CNN.

Villagers found the leopard dead when they went to the scene of the reported attack, the doctor said.

It's not the first leopard attack in the area, Rahul said, though he added it was more common to see injuries as the result of attacks by bears.

Another woman was recently killed by a young male cat, which was shot dead by hunters, according to Digvijay Khati, chief wildlife warden in Uttarakhand.

"These are alarming incidents because usually leopards attack and kill dogs, goats or young children -- not adults," Khati told CNN.

He said the big cats' natural habitat is shrinking, and their natural prey are becoming scarce.

However, Khatis said, "We cannot say that the increase of human population in the areas is responsible, because attacks have even occurred where human population is less, and people are now moving out to the plains in search of work," he said.

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