Thursday, July 10, 2008

Leopard jeopardy


July 11, 2008



Leopard jeopardy

Ronelle Ramsamy

RESIDENTS of the Mvutshini area near Hluhluwe have been warned to remain cautious and refrain from hunting down a prowling leopard that reportedly killed livestock over the weekend.
While no human fatalities have been reported, several people allegedly spotted the leopard attacking a herd of grazing goats on Friday.
Owner of the livestock, Mr Shoyiza, told the Zululand Observer that leopard attacks on their livestock in Mvutshini were now becoming a common occurrence.
'My sister saw the leopard crawling slowly and saw the high grass move. She then ran into the room to call us. By the time, we got out, the leopard had attacked the goats, killing four and injuring several others.
'Leopards often attack our livestock, but we cannot do anything because we are afraid to chase the animal. We have no other place for the animals to graze,' said Shoyiza.
It is unknown whether the animal escaped from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park as leopards breed inside and out of the park's jurisdiction.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Maureen Zimu confirmed that section rangers had already combed the area and had set traps with bait in an attempt to capture the animal.
'We never introduced leopards to the area because they live within and on the outskirts of the park's parameters. Leopards are often sighted in the Mvutshini area and many awareness campaigns have been done to educate residents and Inkosi on how to react when spotting the animal.
'Traps have been permanently set up from previous incidents in the area, so this is not a new occurance,' Zimu said.
She warned residents, however, to avoid hunting the predator.
'Leopards are shy animals and wait for their victims. But if a group of people confront the animal with knobkieries and spears, the leopard is likely to become more aggressive and attack humans.
'So, we urge residents to leave it to the experts who are trying to capture the leopard responsible for these attacks. In 2006 a woman was attacked by the river in the same vicinity.'
Owners of livestock have also been cautioned to let their livestock graze on vacant plots of land, where they are clearly visible.


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