Leopard on the loose in Mpumalanga

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A leopard is on the loose near Middelburg in Mpumalanga and traps have been set up to try and catch it.

A leopard is on the loose near Middelburg in Mpumalanga and traps have been set up to try and catch it.

“We are trying to capture the leopard and take it to another area,” Janie de Bruyn, head of the anti-poaching unit which assists with other complaints, said on Wednesday.

“We have been trying since last week but haven't caught it yet.”

He suspected the leopard had moved to another area because fresh tracks had been found.

“I will be going there where the tracks are today (Wednesday). We may put up a cage there.”

De Bruyn was called in after Tertia Ellis spotted the leopard on her farm.

“Leopards try to avoid humans always,” said De Bruyn. “If it attacks it may be in self defence.”

Ellis said the leopard had attacked her sheepdog during the Easter weekend. It had to be put down as it sustained severe neck wounds.

On another occasion the leopard was seen on Ellis's lawn.

“I heard howling and barking outside and when I looked through the window, I saw the animal about five metres away from me,” she told Sapa.

“The sensor lights came on and I saw for sure that it was a leopard because of the spots.

“It was scary and also surprising,” she said.

Her farm Ijama is situated between Middelburg and Witbank, and draped against mountains. The Olifants river runs nearby.

She said she was not a farmer and only lived there.

Across the river where cattle was being herded, a farmworker had also spotted the leopard. It had chased the worker and his dogs into his employer's farmhouse, said Ellis.

Ellis's daughter who visited from Pretoria recently, had seen leopard tracks in the mountain.

De Bruyn said the animal would not be caught easily.

“It takes quite a while to do that but we are busy with it.” – Sapa


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