Leopard strays close to camping area in Kruger National Park, rangers set to capture it

19 December 2019 - 09:20 By timeslive
A leopard has been sighted near a camping area in the Kruger National Park.
A leopard has been sighted near a camping area in the Kruger National Park.
Image: 123RF

A young leopard has been spotted on the edge of a camping site at Berg en Dal rest camp in the Kruger National Park.

Sanparks said its rangers were out at first light on Thursday to try to capture the leopard. It had advised visitors to be extra cautious.

The Latest Sightings Facebook page said the leopard had killed a bushbuck inside Berg en Dal camp, near the camping sites.

On Wednesday night, it shared a post by a visitor saying: “We just saw the official vehicle drive by our bungalow with strong torches scanning the bushes. They have not flushed the leopard. He is about 75 to 100m from the caravans. It is in the bushes by the very, very end of the caravan section ... They are going to try with a cage with meat tomorrow.”

“The most frequently asked question is how these animals get so close to humans and we have consistently warned tourists to stop habituating animals, such as baboons, by providing food,” Sanparks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said on Thursday.

“The problem is that these animals then start attracting predators, which places humans under threat and might lead to the destruction of those very same animals.”

Phaahla said rangers were devising plans to capture and relocate the animal away from the camping site.

“Our warnings are clear, these are wild animals; treat them as such and not as pets.”

Meanwhile, Sanparks last week confirmed the arrest of a suspected rhino poacher during ongoing counter-poaching operations and the death of two suspected rhino poachers, in a contact with rangers, in the Kruger National Park.

It said in the first incident on December 12, Pretoriuskop rangers conducting follow-up operations during the early morning made contact with a group of three suspected poachers. During the contact, one suspect was arrested and the remaining two managed to escape.

In the second incident, Pretoriuskop rangers conducting nocturnal counter-poaching operations made contact with a group of three suspected poachers just before midnight. During the contact, said Sanparks, two of the suspects were fatally wounded and the third managed to escape.

A loaded heavy-calibre firearm, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered at the scene.

Investigations into both incidents are under way.