Arthur Du Mosch has averted a cat-astrophe.
The 49-year-old nature guide was fast asleep Monday, his family and pet cat dozing beside him, when a larger feline hopped in his bed for a latenight visit - a wild leopard, to be exact.
Du Mosch, 49, a nature guide, didn't flinch. Clad only in underwear and a T-shirt, he lunged at the leopard, grabbed it around the neck, then pinned it down for 20 minutes - until park rangers arrived on the scene.
"This kind of thing doesn't happen every day," he said, plainly. "I don't know why I did it. I wasn't thinking, I just acted."
Raviv Shapira, who heads the southern district of the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority, said a half-dozen of the leopards have been spotted near Du Mosch's small community in the Negev desert in southern Israel, "but we have never heard of a leopard coming into a private home," he said.
He said it was food, not curiosity, that lured the cat.
Those who near humans are usually old and weak, and too frail to hunt in the wild, resorting instead to the easier option of chasing down domestic dogs and cats, Shapira added.
Leopards in Israel pose no threat to people and, in fact, this leopard was chasing Du Mosch's cat and not the humans sleeping in the bed, Shapira said. He said the leopard was very weak when captured.
Du Mosch said he probably would not have been able to control the big cat were it in better health. As a nature guide, he said, he was familiar with animals and did his best to hold down the leopard without harming it. He said he took it all in stride, "but the kids were excited."
His young daughter had been in the room at the time because a mosquito in her own bedroom had frightened her, he said.
Nature officials said they were assessing the leopard's health and would soon likely release him back into the wild, after fitting him with a tracking device.
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