The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - 'Diary of a Tour in the Naga Hills, 1922-1923' by Henry Balfour

caption: Unsuccessful leopard hunt resulting in manslaughter of Sema youth
medium: diaries
person: Hutton/ J.H.
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Kohima
date: 25.9.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Mon. 25th
text: Packed again for Manipur, but the car was not yet repaired & no other could be obtained, so we gave it up again & unpacked. Last night a leopard entered Kohima bazaar & caught & eat two dogs [sic]. It was seen early this morning & hundreds of Nagas & some others turned out with spears & a few with guns. The leopard was located in a ravine just below the Bazaar. All the morning they tried to get at it, but the beast was not killed although there was much firing. Three Nagas were mauled by the leopard rather badly, and one (a Sema youth) was killed by a bullet fired at close range as he fell backwards in trying to avoid the beast, which rushed him and clawed his thigh & mauled his foot. The bullet was intended for the leopard, but entered the youth's forehead high up, just where the hair ended. It made a small hole through the skull &, I should think, must have lodged in the cerebellum [This was verified by the post mortem]. The occurence was reported to Hutton, and he & I went down to look into it. We found the body lying near the spot where the boy was shot & examined it & the scene of the tragedy. We had the scene reconstructed, the body being placed in the position & attitude occupied at the moment of the accident, & Hutton took evidence from the eye-witnesses, & ordered a post mortem. Nothing more could be done, so we returned to the bungalow. It rained all the afternoon & dense cloud hid everything; so the hunt fizzed out. At night a jackal was howling close to the bungalow. Fine, starlight night.