Following the hype and excitement of the recent leopard sighting in Gordon’s Bay, we thought it prudent to share some info on what to do in a situation like this. As human housing and development encroaches further on our natural areas, it is increasingly likely that people and wildlife will bump into each other occasionally. Worldwide, habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to biodiversity. The increasing human population puts ever greater pressure on natural habitats – the homes of our animal neighbours… While most of us would be pretty content with seeing a little duiker or grysbok, a mongoose, genet or even a caracal in our gardens, we’re not quite comfortable with the idea of a top predator (like a leopard) in a residential area. The latter does not happen often but is not unheard of, especially where areas of human habitation border large areas of natural mountainous habitat.
What should you do if you see a leopard or other wildlife that needs help? Remember that these are wild animals and that no matter how cute they seem, keep a safe distance. Do not try to approach, corner or catch a wild animal. Wild animals usually are more afraid of you than you are of it, so rather retreat slowly (facing the animal) to keep it from panicking. Try to familiarise yourself with the local wildlife authority in your area and their contact details (like you do with the fire department, emergency services and police).
Please report displaced or injured wildlife as soon as possible to a wildlife authority so that the animal can get the support it needs in the shortest time possible.
Useful links and contact details
- Cape of Good Hope SPCA: Wildlife Unit – Tel 021 700 4158/4159 or 083 326 1604 after hours and on weekends
- City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management (Steenbras and Helderberg areas) – Tel: 021 957 4725 ext. 2413061
- CapeNature – switchboard on 021 483 0000 during office hours, 07h30 to 16h00 weekdays. Find out which CapeNature reserve is closest to you and get the reserve office number from the CN website.
- The Cape Leopard Trust (for leopard-related incidents) – Tel 076 522 1201 or 082 337 0964
It is a great privilege for us to share our space with incredible creatures, let’s make sure we know how to do the right thing!