Sunday June 6 turned out to be another Rescue effort from Moholoholo. We were contacted by forestry officials near Tzaneen who had found a leopard in a snare. This brought everything at Moholoholo almost to a standstill as we planned our next move. We rushed off to the scene almost 150 km away. Arriving at the Old Couch House Hotel we were led by one of the Forestry officials down a dirt track toward the leopard. It seemed like we were driving forever down the forestry roads spiraling and winding up and down the hills. We eventually reached the site and realized that we were in the middle of nowhere. If we got lost in this place we would never get out it seemed.
The leopard was spotted by a truck driver that has been burning the controlled firebreaks in that area and that the Leopard is lucky he came along for these roads don’t get a lot of vehicles moving here. Some only gets driven on once a year, he said.
It was a horrible sight. The leopard, still alive, was stuck in between the bushes with the snare around her waist, right next to the road. She was so weak and dehydrated and would have been dead the next day if they did not find her. She did not even growl at us and was so exhausted that she couldn’t even stand up.
Although she was weak we still were not able to handle her without sedating her. We darted her and the only reaction she showed was an uncomfortable growl and a faint attempt to get up. It did not take long for her to be fully sedated and we rushed to get her out of the snare and give her the emergency treatment that she desperately needed.
On closer inspection of the area you could see that she had been fighting the snare for at least 5 days already. The scratch marks on the trees and the broken branches even the marks in the soil testified of a long and vigorous struggle. What this animal must have gone through in those few days…
Once on the table we checked her vital signs to determine the actual state she was in, which was not promising at all. Her body temperature was 34°C (normal would be 38°C), she was dehydrated, and in terrible shock. We also confirmed that she was a young female that possibly would still be with her mother.
With no electricity for heat blankets or hot water bottles we had to use the sun to try and raise her body temperature where a space blanket came in handy too. We put her on a drip to re-hydrate her and to treat her wounds. She had one bad cut around her waist from the snare and 2 smaller wounds on her legs which would heal fine, but the internal damage was the one we worried about. After nearly 2 hours we were on our way back to the Rehab.
I’ll give you a full update in a day or too.
View more photos here...