Make sure you carry cat food

PUBLISHED: 11:34 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 11 May 2010

Given the alarming story of a prowling panther in the North Herts countryside (Crow July 16), may I offer some advice to those operating outdoors. Despite the occasional testy relationship between owners and users of the countryside, I would suggest that

Given the alarming story of a prowling panther in the North Herts countryside (Crow July 16), may I offer some advice to those operating outdoors.

Despite the occasional testy relationship between owners and users of the countryside, I would suggest that the situation does not merit ramblers carrying firearms. Yet.

When I was in East Africa on safari (the Swahili word for walk), a friendly Kikuyu advised me that if I was ever challenged by a big game animal, including cats, I should strike it soundly between the eyes with a clenched fist. This would make the beast know I meant business and retire. I pointed out that this may be difficult with elephants and giraffes, but he said that they are more scared of you than you them.

Allegedly the most dangerous animal is the hippopotamus when it is away from water, but I wouldn't like to face a rhino alone. I did once face a buffalo on Mount Kenya, but I gave it room, walked past, and the lugubrious animal carried on grazing.

The only other suggestion I can make is a judicious addition to the rucksack of some ring-pull cans of cat food. While doling out the offal, adopt a higher canon and say "here pussy, pussy, pussy!" This may just work in placating the animal. If it still appears aggressive the power of prayer is not to be undervalued. Alternatively, run like Usain Bolt chasing the last bus home.

If other readers have views or experiences they can lend on this issue I would be grateful to hear them. Isn't Royston an exciting place to live?

Carlo Zambonini

Old North Road

Royston

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