A new home and new front teeth what more does a leopard need




"Dr Sonia van der Mescht, based in Tzaneen, jumped at the opportunity and agreed to perform the procedure at no cost." The problem was worse than anticipated and removing proved more difficult than in a human. Sonia spent about six hours to remove the canines, which were approximately six centimetres into the jaw. It was then decided to build a set of canines to be implanted. "The leopard is currently quarantined in a boma where he is fed soft meat and organs. The constructing of this new set of canines will take two months, which should give his bone enough time to recover from the previous surgery." Shiloweni's progress can be tracked on www. karongwe.co.za.

"Sightings around houses became more frequent and eventually it was decided to avoid a potentially dangerous situation." Desperate to save the leopard, Gerrie had taken it to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in the hope that a suitable home could be found for him. This proved a more difficult task than expected and eventually it was decided to release the male leopard on Karongwe, despite the presence of a resident leopard population on the reserve.

On April 12, 2008, Dr Peter Rogers, a vet based in Hoedspruit, (Pro-Vet Wildlife Services) and Constant darted the animal at Moholoholo. On examining the animal, Dr Rogers found that it had a few broken teeth, but no abscesses were noted. "He was fitted with a satellite and VHF collar to enable both the National Leopard Forum and Karongwe Wildlife Research team to keep track of his movements and monitor his behaviour." This proved a saving grace. Shiloweni, so named by the staff at Karongwe Private Nature Reserve, was released on the reserve at 15h00, roughly in the middle of the reserve.

"The Karongwe Research Team spent 12 hour shifts to monitor him through the night." Constant observed that "he moved around in the southern section of the reserve, exploring his new home, and appeared to be extremely happy here. He made several kills, and gave rangers, guests and researchers the opportunity to view him. He was extremely relaxed after his arrival, and was content to go about his business regardless of his admirers." After a month the Karongwe team noted that Shiloweni's kill frequency decreased and he started losing condition.

His behaviour also indicated there may be a problem. Management called in the help of Dr Rogers who found a huge abscesses in Shiloweni's upper canines. "We had two options - find a dentist to help or put the animal down. We opted for the dentist but then had to find one willing to perform oral surgery on a 60kg male leopard.

"Dr Sonia van der Mescht, based in Tzaneen, jumped at the opportunity and agreed to perform the procedure at no cost." The problem was worse than anticipated and removing proved more difficult than in a human. Sonia spent about six hours to remove the canines, which were approximately six centimetres into the jaw. It was then decided to build a set of canines to be implanted. "The leopard is currently quarantined in a boma where he is fed soft meat and organs. The constructing of this new set of canines will take two months, which should give his bone enough time to recover from the previous surgery." Shiloweni's progress can be tracked on www. karongwe.co.za.



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