This article was published in Kruger2Canyon News, Vol 9 Issue 31 on 15 July 2011, written by Desiré Wright, photograph by Sarie van Vuuren.
HOEDSPRUIT – On June 20 the Leopard Conservation Project (LCP) rescued a leopard from a snare on a cattle farm in Limpopo. At first sight its injuries didn’t seem to be too severe as the snare had only constricted around this 65kg male’s waist. The leopard, otherwise in very good condition and estimated to be 3 – 4-years-old, was taken to the veterinary hospital at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre for observation.
Last week the snare wound burst open and Dr Rogers from ProVet Wildlife Services was called to operate on July 11.
Dr Rogers darted the leopard and it took a fair amount of time for this big cat to go to sleep. Even through the thick metal bars of its hospital cage, its warning growls and yellow eyes staring directly into mine made me take a few hasty steps back. It must have been in extreme agony due to the snare wound and although it had lost 10kg, it was still very impressive at a length of 2,1m from tip of nose to tip of tail.
When finally sedated the snare wound turned out to be not quite as bad as expected. Although the cut was a few centimetres deep, it was only a flesh wound and Dr Rogers stitched him up with a semi cat-proof suture pattern called a horizontal mattress which makes it difficult for the animal to pull the stitches out as the knots are not on the outside where they can be easily reached by a dextrous tongue.
According to Fred Berrangé from LCP this leopard will have to spend some more time in hospital but he is confident that it will make a full recovery, as leopards are extremely hardy, surviving in the harshest conditions.