A Mountain Lion in Nevada. Photo by Mike Pearson.
In the beginning God created man, but seeing him so feeble he gave him the cat.
All cats are capable of inflicting nasty wounds on humans, with even the little domestic animals having razor sharp claws and teeth. Imagine then the immense power and destructive potential of big cats such as lions, tigers and panthers with such weapons.
Top Cats: the two species which are common enough and big enough to be dangerous to man (or more especially children) are the African Lion and the North American Mountain Lion, also known as the Cougar.
African Lions – absolutely not to be messed with, though your safari vehicle is 100% safe. Step out of your Land Rover, however, for a close-up picture of an apparently lazy pride of lions and find out how fast and deadly they are. Two Japanese confirmed this not long ago in Kenya’s Masai Mara. They went home in a box.
Tented camps are fine if you observe the safety rules.
Mountain Lions/Cougars – the cougar is not really a lion at all and is a cat the size of a human that is closely related to the panther.
Mountain lion attacks have increased dramatically in the US in recent years no doubt as a result of pressure on their ecosystem and the greater numbers of people taking recreation in wilderness areas.
Tigers – seeing one is difficult enough, you’d be pretty unfortunate to be attacked by one!
Avoiding Mountain Lions
Don’t walk the dog- taking your dog with you will offer little protection and is more likely to attract a cougar. It’s best not to travel with a dog into the wilds if your concern is mountain lion attack.
Don’t wander lonely as a cloud – if you are anxious about the possibility of attack there is safety in numbers.
Take a pepper spray – it’s a fast animal but has a very sensitive nose that is most impressed by refined, multiplied jalapeño peppers.
If you meet a cougar
• stare them in the eyes and don’t look away.
• shout, it can confuse them and break their concentration.
• do not bend, crouch or crawl, cats like small targets.
• do not run, it’s a kind of attack trigger, and they can run much faster than humans. .
• if there is warning growl from a mountain lion, shout and generally look as big as possible with your arms raised high. Throw sticks and rocks and shout abuse. They hate that.
If they attack
– fight back, unlike their more dangerous African cousins which are huge, the less powerful mountain lion will usually take an adult human animal fairly seriously. Usually they hide and pounce or creep up on their victims, with the aim of biting the jugular and breaking the spine. Children are at greater risk.
Punch and grab for for their snouts and eyes, or testicles if it’s a male. Shout and scream to confuse the critter, in addition to summoning help.