A leopard that had been preying on dogs and cats in the town of Phalaborwa at the end of last year has now been released back into the wild. The leopard was captured by vet Gerrit Scheepers and taken to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit.
She had been snared and had a gruesome wound around her entire neck. In one place the cable snare had cut through her windpipe. She recuperated at Moholoholo, where she was also kept for a while after healing in order to break her homing instinct.
Now, fitted with a cellphone collar that gives a GPS reading every five hours, she was released on a farm in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. The leopard moved eastwards from her point of release into the Kruger National Park, where she spent some time near Olifants Camp.
She then returned westwards in the region of the Klaserie River, passing the offices of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, and heading more or less towards her point of release.
Brian Jones from Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre says that this is a common pattern, as about nine other leopards that they have tracked after release have all moved in a circle. Jones is positive about re-releasing leopards that have been causing a problem, saying that there is no need to shoot the animals.
He believes that once their homing instinct has been broken they can safely be released elsewhere. Moholoholo has now returned 14 captured leopards into the wild, five of which have gone to the Eastern Cape.