At around 21h00 on Monday evening, June 27, some Kruger staff saw a leopard walking past the Letaba Elephant Hall building in the Letaba Camp. One of the camp guides kept an eye on the leopard while waiting for Joe Nkuna, Letaba section ranger, who prepared and briefed his team to deal with the situation. The team kept a close eye on the leopard but refrained from immediate action as there were too many people around. Joe did not want to risk any tourists being injured.
The team followed the leopard to another, quieter spot where one of the members attempted to shoot the leopard. He missed and the leopard moved towards the river. Though the rangers had park-issued Maglite torches on hand, “our thanks go to the tourists who lent the team their two more powerful torches,” says Raymond Travers, spokesperson for Kruger. According to Travers the better light enabled Nkuna to get a clear shot and for him to fire, instantly killing the leopard. “A third insurance shot was then fired.”
Travers says the decision on whatever course of action is left to the section ranger. “It must be stressed that the ranger acted this way as his primary concern was the protection of people’s lives.” The post mortem revealed that the animal was a post prime adult female. She was basically healthy, but had a broken canine.
“She was also quite hungry, judging from the lack of material in her stomach and intestines.” Travers says the Park definitely knew that leopards entered the Camp to hunt the relatively tame bushbuck found there. On investigation, the team found a hole in the fence which could have been caused during the ongoing work to create a day visitor’s site at Letaba. Travers says the fences around the Kruger camps are regularly inspected.