During August 2008 Department of Nature Conservation was contacted by the Eksteenskuil Co-op to assist farmers in the Langklaas islands where their livestock were being attacked by a predator thought to be a leopard. Nature Conservation assisted the farmers by setting a cage to capture the leopard. In September 2008 the leopard was captured and the community was very surprised because this was history in Eksteenskuil. This is an intensive farming area and comparatively densely populated. Nobody expected a leopard on the Islands of Eksteenskuil. The community assisted Nature Conservation with the task to capture the leopard. The leopard was relocated to a nature reserve.
Leopards are one of South Africa’s last remaining large carnivores. These elusive and majestic creatures are by far the most successful of the big cats because they are so adaptable and are able to hunt, survive and reproduce in some of South Africa’s harshest environments. These solitary roamers are found from the beaches of Cape Agulhas all the way to Northern most tip of South Africa.
However, very little is known about the leopards that inhabit the Green Kalahari and the Lower Orange River. The relatively unexplored Green Kalahari is situated in the Northern Cape approximately 2 hours from Upington. The arid and rugged landscape makes it appear as an inhospitable area where only the toughest survive. Yet, this semi-dessert has one major lifeline – the ever-flowing Orange River. This permanent water supply attracts a variety of wildlife.
It is in a sense reassuring to know that at least one of Africa’s big five still roams free and manages to survive despite the ever expanding farming activities. It is also commendable that the Eksteenskuil farmers showed an understanding of nature and the importance of capturing and relocating the leopard instead of hunting it down. Things quickly returned to normal, but it is being said that after sunset people are still apprehensive of walking alone in the African night. Who knows, maybe there are predators on the watch!