Honeymoons are supposed to be unforgettable, right? Well, finding a leopard in your hotel bathroom definitely makes for a holiday to remember.


According to local media, newlyweds Sumit and Shivani Rathore were sleeping in their hotel room in the Himalayan resort town of Nainital when they were woken by the sound of breaking glass as the big cat jumped in through the window.

“I quickly covered my wife and myself with the blanket and saw the leopard enter the bathroom,” Mr Rathore told the Hindustan Times. “I rushed to close the bathroom door and called the hotel management.”

A team from the local forestry department arrived on the scene with tranquilliser guns and a cage to trap the animal, but the cat managed to escape into the nearby jungle. According to some reports, attempts to dart the leopard failed when it was startled by a large crowd of people, prompting aggressive behaviour.


Nainital forest officer Tejasvini Arvind Patil suggests the leopard may have strayed into the area while looking for food, but it's also possible the stowaway was using the bathroom as a safe house. 

"Perhaps it was chased by dogs, as a result of which it came to the hotel,” he told Times of India. “Seeing its image reflected in the window, it probably mistook it for another leopard and attacked the reflection thus breaking the window and entering the room."

Though this incident is a first for the hotel, human-wildlife conflict in India has long been a problem for leopards, which today survive in and around even densely populated areas. Affected communities often deal with the threat by resorting to revenge killings when attacks occur, while trapping on a large scale has left many cats in limbo and zoos struggling to deal with an influx of animals. 

In recent decades, expanding farmland has also provided the cats with a convenient refuge: rows of crops like sugarcane are the perfect place for a leopard to hide during the day, with a nearby buffet of rats, pigs, and feral dogs and cats.

Leopard biologist Vidya Athreya explains that while national parks and refuges do provide important habitat for these animals, most Indian leopards spend at least some time beyond protected borders. And without a clear understanding of how many leopards there are in the country, or how they use their range, setting up the right protection measures is becoming increasingly difficult. 

"No official, country-wide population estimate exists," says WWF India, who has been working with state forest departments and local communities in the hope of reducing conflict through community education. This is just one of many examples of how human encroachment can affect the world's wildlife, and for India's leopards, more action is urgently needed to help humans and the big cats coexist. 


Top header image: Mihael Hercog/Flickr