Friday, 18 March 2011

What to do with a Leopard once you've caught it

I was dawdling back along the N12 from the ringing conference on Tuesday, when my phone rang. Anja said: “Thank heavens you answered your phone: we've caught a leopard”. I made it home in record time.

For several months now we have had a walk-through cage on our property in an attempt to catch a male leopard whose satellite collar no longer works. It has to be checked on a daily basis, which is a bit of a chore after a while, especially when catching anything is few and far between. We have however caught baboon, porcupine, grysbok and aardvark (all of which are released unharmed). So when we can get volunteers to help, great. In this case, Basia, from Poland, was on a routine check, when she noticed the cage door was down, with a leopard inside!

Landmark Foundation, who conduct the Leopard research in the Baviaans area, were called and assembled their team for same day response. Jeannine McManus had to drive all the way from Heidelberg, collecting Glen (a vet from Oudtshoorn) on the way. In the meantime, Basia bravely had to put some blankets over the cage. By the time the team had arrived the Leopard, a young female without a collar, had pulled the blankets through the bars and into the cage.

The following shows a sequence of events from darting, to release:

Spot the Leopard - crouched in the corner of the cage. Not surprising they are so hard to see in the wild!

Glen, the vet, darting the Leopard with a tranquillizer gun

She didn't like that - she roared to show her displeasure

The tranquillizer takes about ten minutes to work. Here she is dreaming of dassies. 

Jeannine and Glen remove her from the cage onto our comfy blanket, ready for processing

Glen gave her eyedrops, checked her general condition (good) and heartbeat

Jeannine estimated her age as two years based on teeth length

The satellite collar was fitted

Weighing the leopard. Photo by Jeannine McManus.

Baboons kept watch towards the end, but ran away when she started to wake up.

After all the processing was complete (less than 1 hour), antibiotics and a wake-up jab were administered. After twenty minutes or so she started to look around.

Here she is back on her feet, but still a bit woozy. She eventually made her way into the bushes where we lost track of her. Hopefully we will see her on our cameras again soon.


  1. Das hat mich schwer beeindruckt, super Leistung.
    Gruß Anke


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