A married father of six is recovering from horrific injuries at Nyangabgwe Hospital after bravely fending off a vicious leopard attack in the wee hours of Monday morning at Ngwasha settlement.
Michael Shadreck, a pump attendant with Elephant Sense, a company that pumps water for wildlife in the Ngwasha area, along the Nata-Kasane road, told of how he punched and suffocated the beast into submission before calling wildlife officers who live 25 kilometers from the place of incident.
Shadreck who lives alone at the campsite said he could not shout for help as the wildlife officers are his nearest neighbours.
“The water engine runs for 24 hours which means its fuel has to be occasionally replenished. On Monday I had to do that at 4am. The leopard attacked as I made my way back from the engine which is in the same yard I live in,” he said.
The attack, Shadreck said, was so sudden and all he heard was what sounded like a muted cat mew and that when he turned his face the big cat landed on him.
“It made for my face and sank its teeth into my lips closing my mouth. Realizing it would rip off my lips or suffocate me I grabbed its head with my left hand and pulled it towards my face to loosen its grip. At the same time I squeezed its throat in with my left hand. After a long moment it let go, turned its back on me and for a moment I thought it was running away,” Shadreck said.
“As sudden as it had let go it turned back and came flying at me again. I punched hard and it fell to the ground. It then flew at me again two more times and I again felled it to the ground with my right hand,” he continued.
Shadreck went on to say that on recovering from his third blow the big cat launched another attack sinking its teeth into the back of his head.
“As my other hand struggled with its claws, I grabbed its throat and squeezed as hard as I could. Soon it began to weaken and eventually I let go. It had fainted and still suffocating it I dragged it into the tin shelter I live in. I locked it in before calling the wildlife officials who came and shot it dead through the window,” the leopard survivor said.
Quizzed on where he had got the strength to fight off the beast he said: “It was the will to live and the power of God. I never at any moment though of dying and I silently prayed to God to help me win as I fought the animal,” he said.