Thursday, June 21, 2007

Man attacked by roaming leopard in Swaziland

By Hlengiwe Ndlovu

A 27-year-old man of Duze area was savagely attacked by a roaming leopard at Siphofaneni yesterday.

Fanukwenta Gamedze was attacked by the vicious carnivore all over the body around sunset before it fled . He sustained wounds all over his body and very deep ones around his neck. Gamedze was taken to Siphofaneni Clinic where he was treated and later discharged.

However, it was not clear where the leopard had actually come from because there are no game parks around the area where Gamedze was attacked. It was further established that it did not belong to any local one.

Gamedze’s unforgettable day at the hands of one of the most dangerous of the feline family started when a group of boys were herding cattle in the veld and suddenly heard a strange groaning sound behind a thicket of bushes.

Upon coming closer to investigate, it became clear to them that the sound was strangely unfamiliar. It was said that the now frightened boys were too afraid to get inside the thicket themselves to explore the source of these sounds, hence they took to their heels to report the matter at home.

It was further gathered that at home they found their three elder brothers, to whom they related the incident. Out of curiosity, the elder brothers wasted no time, but immediately took up arms, formed a small expedition and left for the veld. When they reached the veld, it was reported, they combed the thickets where the sounds had allegedly been heard, in a bid to find the animal causing the strange sounds. Little did they know that their little hunting expedition would end in a very sad way. This was because upon reaching the veld, the three young men tried to search the particular thicket where the sounds had come from and were a little surprised when the carnivore outsmarted them.

It was reported that the leopard spotted them first, as it leapt from nowhere and sprang onto Gamedze who tried to flee, but instead fell onto the ground face down. The leopard reportedly took advantage of Gamedze’s position, seized him and dug its teeth into his neck. Upon sighting the leopard, the other men were not courageous enough to rescue their friend, but instead took to their heels, leaving him behind to be devoured by the wild cat. A pack of dogs, which Gamedze and his counterparts had taken along, came to the rescue of the already bleeding Gamedze. It was said that the leopard and dogs engaged in a very fierce fight, with the canines biting its back.

When the going got tough, the leopard reportedly surrendered and vanished. It was said to have outran the dogs and disappeared into a nearby forest.

Gamedze, upon seeing that the leopard had fled, rushed to the nearest road with the aim of hitching a ride to the hospital. He was assisted by a good ‘Samaritan’ who called Siphofaneni police, who promptly arrived at the scene and took the wounded Gamedze to Siphofaneni Clinic.

In an interview, Gamedze said he felt very lucky to be alive as he was miraculously saved by the dogs. “I had a very narrow escape, if the dogs hadn’t been around, the leopard would have definitely overpowered me.”

He added that the nightmarish drama would always linger vividly in his memory.

Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Vusie Masuku confirmed the incident, further warning members of the public to avoid walking at night because leopards usually roamed around at that time.

He also warned people not to provoke the animal if they see it, but to immediately call the police who would in turn contact Big Game Parks to assist in capturing it. Masuku further warned members of the public not to try and get near the animal as it was extremely dangerous, especially when provoked.§ion=main

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