India loves leopards (with some reservations)
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
MUMBAI–India still has about 6,000 wild leopards,
approximately half of all the leopards of all species left in Asia,
because much of the public is concerned about their survival–and
might even be said to be fond of leopards despite their penchant for
getting into serious trouble.
Since January 1999, when ANIMAL PEOPLE began keeping track,
at least 111 leopards are known to have been poached or otherwise
During that same time, Indian leopards have killed 62 people and
injured at least 62 more in reported incidents.
The victims were typically either children or elderly people,
mostly poor and rural, who were attacked at night near their homes,
and in some cases were actually dragged from homes whose doors and
windows were open to the night breeze because of the heat.
The leopards were usually believed to be in the vicinity to
hunt goats, dogs, sheep, pigs, cattle, or chickens. Many
attacks occurred in areas where wild prey populations had crashed due
to drought, disease, fire, or poaching.
Yet not every leopard who entered a village seemed to be
looking for trouble, and not every village responded to visiting
leopards with terror.
Among the accounts of gruesome attacks, ANIMAL PEOPLE also
found a story about leopard who in 1999 walked into a house, sat
down beside a four-year-old, and watched a nature program on TV,
leaving politely when the program was over, and found several
stories about leopards who befriended and played with dogs who were
staked out as bait in attempts to trap them.
The quirkiness and occasional friendliness of leopards may
explain why for every instance of villagers lynching a leopard for
killing children or livestock, there seemed to be an instance of
villagers going to extraordinary trouble to save leopards who had
fallen down wells or had entered buildings from which they could not
find their way out.