DURBAN – In an unusual rescue, NSRI teams and SA National Parks rangers teamed up to save a leopard trapped on a ledge of a cliff and threatened by a rising tide.
Shortly after midday on Thursday, duty crews were activated to join in an effort to save a leopard stranded on a cliff face at the Storms River at the marine section of the Storms River Gorge.
Station commander Lodewyk van Rensburg said that kayakers from Untouched Adventures, which included NSRI Storms River crew who are SA National Park rangers, had raised the alarm. NSRI and SA National Parks launched a rescue operation.
It is suspected that the leopard, a female estimated to be about 3 years of age, may have fallen down the cliff and was stranded on a cliff face near to the water’s edge.
The Bravo, Caltex Challenger 2, and Spirit of Tsitsikamma, were launched, accompanied by park rangers and a veterinary surgeon. A kayak and a Stokes basket stretcher were taken along as it was expected that after darting the leopard she may go into attack mode and may well land in the water.
Van Rensburg said that on arrival in an incoming tide, the leopard was found to already be on the water’s edge with part of her body submerged as the wave sets came in.
"The leopard was darted and she immediately swam towards the boats. The kayak was positioned alongside the rescue craft. The leopard appeared to attack the kayak when a rope was lassoed around her neck to prevent her from drowning.
Using the rope, the leopard was pulled onto the kayak and then recovered onto the NSRI rescue craft.
“Subdued by the dart, the leopard was brought to Storms River Mouth and secured into the Stokes basket stretcher, loaded into a vehicle and taken to SANParks in Gqeberha,” he said.
With a fractured femur and multiple injuries sadly, despite extensive efforts to save the leopard, she had to be humanely euthanised by the vets.
The Independent on Saturday