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Leopard at Komati Springs

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On 6 August 2021, I was annoyed that a couple of divers were hooting in the campsite. This was a no-noise site, tranquil, quiet, and city dwellers love coming here for this peace. I walked over, and was astonished to see a leopard in the tree, and the divers trapped in their vehicle. The leopard jumped out of the tree and headed towards me. I scrambled behind the car, and Lady Leopard jumped onto the back in between the dive gear with not a care in the world. It was slightly surreal, and I noticed she had a collar. The game reserve collar some of their predators to keep an eye on their whereabouts. Every 12 hours, a signal gets transmitted and the game wardens check locations. We have had a break-though concerning a lion on previous occasions, and the reserve then jumps into action, lays bait and entices the big man out again. 

I snuck back to the office to phone the wardens, and they started getting a team together to come and dart and relocate her. 

Watch the video of the leopard at: https://www.thescubanews.com/2021/08/11/video-when-a-leopard-inspects-your-dive-kit/

Don and I went back to check up on her, and she promptly started tracking us from a few metres. When she got too close for comfort, a loud shout stopped her in her tracks. We managed to get into the ablution block, an she took up a stalk across the stoep – backwards and forwards, with the occasional jump up to check us out through the window. Eventually she tired of our cowardliness and moved off into the bush. We took our chance and got back to the dive centre a few hundred metres away. 

The reserve people arrived and we showed them where she was. We found out her mother was killed and she was taken while here eyes was not even open yet and they tried to sell on the back market. Luckily the Parks Board got wind of the fact, found and confiscated her. She was rehoused in the game reserve in a boma (camp), taught to hunt and once deemed ready, let loose in the greater reserve. Shortly thereafter, she found the most ideal spot with huge trees and convenient limbs to snooze on, but this happened to be our camp site. Also because it is winter and divers are hibernating, the camp site was not used for a month. Poor girl probably thought it was a hostile takeover when the campers arrived. 

Lady leopard jumped into the tree close to the vet, was promptly darted and whizzed further up the tree. Not a good plan as she would soon lose conciseness and fall out. But the guys were ready for this and had a catch-tarpaulin ready. When she let go and fell, she was easily caught. A health check was done and was deemed fit and healthy. Then she was loaded into the pick-up and taken off Komati Springs site. Divers could get back out of vehicles and do what they came for – go diving.

A very memorable day for all. 

Learn more about Komati Springs at: https://www.komatisprings.com


Blue Horizon

About Author

Andre Shirley was born in Zambia but grew up in South Africa. She spent 12 years working as a computer programmer, then decided she needed more excitement and started diving in 1993 (nobody warned her it was addictive). She soon gave up programming to go into diving full time. When she got to the top of the recreational ranks (diving and instructing), she started technical diving in 1998, mainly rebreather, cave, and trimix. In 2000 she seduced Don Shirley (though Don remembers it the other way round) and went into partnership with (took over) the already established IANTD Licensee for Southern Africa. This involved moving from a city to a nature reserve with dive site - Komati Springs.

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