Natural World - Leopards: 21st Century Cats

Fri May 17, 9-10pm, BBC2

Occasionally, someone in London gets bitten by a fox. This is usually the cue for us to get our knickers in an almighty twist about dangerous predators in our midst and so forth. So consider the people of Mumbai: they co-exist with leopards and, mostly, they get on fine. Still, as India’s human population expands, its big cats are menaced. Sadly, this often manifests itself in attacks on humans. People kill leopards’ natural food sources to feed themselves. People kill older leopards, disrupting their hierarchies. And people sometimes simply move in next door to them.

Compared to, say, tigers, leopards are massively adaptable: they’ll eat anything – even, at a push, human beings. Conservationist Rom Whitaker helms the piece even-handedly – clearly, his vocation puts him on the side of nature, but he can also understand the perfectly reasonable fears that drive human reactions to big cats. A gently interesting film.

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