Thursday, November 09, 2006

South African villagers chase leopard up tree, relocate it

November 08 2006 at 04:21PM

A leopard that had killed a goat belonging to a rural community near Vryheid was darted and relocated to the Ithala Game Reserve late last month, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said on Wednesday.

"We decided to react swiftly... as the community does not react kindly to wild animals killing their livestock. They could have killed the leopard. We also wanted to avoid conflict with the community as they tend to want to claim for compensation if one of their stock gets killed by a wild animal," said Ezemvelo spokesperson Jeff Gaisford.

"The community members managed to chase the young leopard up a tree and keep it there while alerting us."

Ezemvelo called in Dr Silke Pfitzer, a local vet, to dart the animal.

"The leopard had hidden itself in the foliage of a tall tree growing amongst boulders and bush in a rocky ravine and it was necessary to get within 20 metres of the animal in order for the dart gun to be effective," said Gaisford.

Pfitzer managed to dart the animal in the neck, which was the only body part visible.

"She was not hurt. We loaded her onto a stretcher and placed her in a steel cage and drove her into the reserve. She was inserted a micro-chip under her skin and also notched an ear for identification purposes," said Gaisford.

The female leopard was nicknamed Silke, after the vet, and is said to be adapting well in her new environment as she has already been seen in the company of a male leopard. - Sapa =qw1162992601676B251

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