Oct 4, 2010

A second chance and a step towards freedom.

In life we are not all lucky enough to receive a second chance, a chance to prove that we can do right. For our wildlife these chances are fewer and further between. They do not have the ability to speak out to defend their actions and many times they are lumped together and labeled as ruthless dangerous killers who are a threat to human well being. In their quest to survive they are forced closer and closer to human habitation and some have no other choice than to partake in livelihood of people. Many such animals are shot or sentenced to a slow and painful death for their perseverance in the face of a shrinking habitat and will never be afforded that illusive second chance. But today I am here to tell you about a mesmerizing creature that was lucky enough to beat the odds.

 Previously we posted a story about a female leopard with two cubs that discovered ostriches were easy prey (and a tasty meal to boot!) After she had killed 36 ostriches the farmer had had enough and if we were not able to remove the leopards from his farm he was going to take drastic steps in order to save his livestock. We were successful in our endeavours and brought the leopards to the rehab center where we could care for them until we were able to find a suitable place to release them. During the process of capturing the leopards, the cubs had been separated from their mother and so we were not able to house them with her as she will no longer recognise them as her own. They will stay at the center until they are older and stronger and able to fend for themselves in the wild. The mother however is perfectly healthy and after much phoning around Brian managed to find a place to relocate her to in a game reserve in the nearby area which wanted to increase their leopard population.

On hearing this wonderful news, a R15, 000.00 GPS collar was ordered for the female leopard. This will allow us to track her movements by downloading her positions onto the computer. We can see where she wonders to and if she has stayed in one spot for a day or two then we can deduce that she has made a kill. Fantastic technology, but extremely costly.

Once the collar was checked and fitted, the female was placed in a crate and the students piled into another vehicle so they could witness this moment and say farewell to this fearsome rosetted creature that they had helped care for.

When we had reached our destination, which is located a good hundred kilometers or more from her original killing grounds, we off-loaded the crate and once everyone was clustered in a safe spot Brian opened the hatch. Still wobbly from the sedative, she took her first tentative steps towards freedom, cautiously at first and then sensing there was no harm she ventured forth to investigate her new home.

 We can only hope that she will not return to her old ways and that she will stay within the safe confines of the game reserve.

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