After outrage about the video showing a Kruger National Park employee violently hitting a euthanised leopard, SANParks has released a statement strongly condemning the behaviour.
In the video, the KNP employee is seen beating an already-dead leopard in what seems to be a fit of fury.
According to SANParks, the incident arose after rangers euthanised a leopard last Sunday. The leopard’s carcass was being retrieved to be taken for a post-mortem.
SANParks revealed that the leopard was shot just 30m away from where an employee from Shalati Concession, en route to work, had been attacked shortly before by a leopard. It stated that this was the second such attack on a Park worker since June 26, and occurred in the same area as the previous attack.
SANParks said: “In line with SANParks’ policies and standard operating procedures on the management of damage-causing animals, a decision was taken to euthanise the leopard to safeguard human life.”
SANParks said it had taken steps to positively identify all persons in the video. The organisation confirmed that four of the nine implicated persons were SANParks employees and three were rangers.
It said that a further three individuals were employed by concessions who operate in the Park and the last one is employed as an environmental monitor. The ninth person who was filmed striking the euthanised leopard was visiting the Park and isn’t a SANParks employee.
“SANParks is aware of his identity, and is taking legal advice on sanctions to be imposed on him,” said SANParks.
The organisation, which is also a custodian of wildlife in the country, also said that on the basis of the evidence received, one employee had been suspended pending disciplinary action. Line management was finalising its approach with respect to other employees who may have transgressed SANParks’ policies and code of conduct.