Prabhu Bhatara thought he saw a bear lying defenseless on the grass before he approached the animal to take a selfie with it, Hindustan Times reports. According to a forest ranger, Bhatara was killed on impact as the bear attacked. Footage captured him nearing the bear for a photo before the two engaged in what appears to be hand-to-paw combat.
Bhatara and some friends were coming back from a wedding on Wednesday (May 9) GMT, according to the Hindustan Times. The group of men stopped in the Nabarangpur district of Odisha, a state in eastern India, to break from what was a long drive. Then, Bhatara reportedly separated himself from the group having sighted the still animal. Apparently, his friends warned against this.
There was little Bhatara’s friends could do to stop the incident. They watched from afar, not helping, but recording the graphic attack on their phones instead. Bhatara’s friends were still in the car. While his friends opted for the safety of neutrality, a stray dog happened upon the attack, attempting to pounce on the bear in defense of the man’s life, officials said. But it was ineffective, ranger Dhanurjaya Mohapatr shared in a statement. Bhatara died at the scene.
Bhatara’s body was recovered later in the night as the closest officers weren’t available for six miles. Officials weren’t able to retrieve Bhatara’s body until they tranquilized the bear. The bear is currently being treated for injuries.
Last year, India reported 7,556 animal-related deaths across the country. The sloth bear, the bear that killed Bhatara, is amongst the top five animals connected to human deaths in India.