An old male leopard was captured in the Makoko village, about 10 kilometres south of the Numbi Gate of the Kruger National Park (KNP) on July 4, 2008. He was taken to Skukuza in the KNP where state veterinarians assessed his general condition and tested the animal for any diseases that would determine if he could be released into the wild.
Recently appointed warden for the Mdluli concession west of Numbi Gate in Kruger, Conraad de Rosner, alerted staff of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) about the leopard.Conraad says he was patrolling the veterinary fence on the park’s western border from Numbi Gate towards Crocodile Bridge when he noticed the fence running past the opening of a 10 metre concrete tunnel leading under the railway line that runs along the park border, was missing.
The following day, Conaraad and two Kruger field rangers based at the Pretoriuskop section, found cable snares on the western side of the tunnel. There were also indications that goats and dogs had been tied to the fence and eaten by a leopard. After removing the snares, the team met upon a man walking the railway line, who pointed out that villagers are trying to snare a leopard that is killing their livestock.
As they approcahed the southern side of Makoko village, Conraad noticed cable snares around most of the livestock kraals. One village resident said a leopard had caught two of his dogs and confirmed that the villagers had set out to destroy the animal. Conraad and his team advised the villagers that snaring is illegal and contacted the protected areas management team of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).
Upon investigating the situation, MTPA captured the leopard which was eventually put down. “Apart from its old age, the animal seemed to have spinal damage and was not a candidate for translocation,” says Dr Roy Bengis, state vet based in Skukuza. It appears the animal had been taking a beating from younger leopards inside Kruger and preyed in livestock adjacent the park to survive.