The hill dwellers in India cremate their dead. The cremation takes place on the bank of a stream or river so the ashes may be washed down into the Ganges and eventually out to sea. Most of the villages are situated high up on the hills, while the streams or rivers are in many cases miles away down in teh valleys. Funerals are difficult affairs, not only for the people carrying the body long distances over difficult terrain but also because of the amount of fire wood that needs to be collected for the cremation. In normal times, these rites are carried out efficiently.
However, when epidemics sweep through the hills or natural disasters strike, such as the devastating floods a few months ago, the inhabitants die faster than they can be disposed of. Therefore, a simple rite, which consists of placing a live coal in the mouth of the deceased, is performed in the village and the body is then carried to the edge of the hill and cast into the valley below.
A leopard, in an area in which his natural food is scarce, finding these bodies very soon acquires a taste for human flesh, and when the disease dies down and normal conditions are established, he very naturally, on finding his food supply cut off, takes to killing human beings. The two most famous man eating leopards in this area, which between them killed 525 humans, one followed on the heels of a severe outbreak of cholera, while the other followed a mysterious disease which locals simply call “war fever.”
These two leopards have each killed more humans than even the most gruesome serial killer.