Where is Johan?

Published: 27 January 2006

Two and a half months have passed and still no sign of 'Johan' near our cage trap set for him to be collared. For whatever reason, he has avoided the area he routinely visits. Yet, day in and day out, I monitor the trap. Each trip taking about 2 hours! Each trip ending in disappointment. On several occasions I have had hyrax, mongoose and even klipspringer set the cage off. Mostly I would find no signs of movement of any kind.

Nicole & I now need a much needed break - so much for the 'festive season'! On Sunday 2 days before we decide to deactivate the cage (for a weeks holiday) I take a slow hike down the kloof to the cage, looking for signs of our elusive cat. 30 minutes into the walk - nothing. No tracks , but in the distance I see that the cage doors are down. Something has set it off. Hyrax and small mammals merely walk out after the doors have slammed shut. What is it this time? I approach carefully from the side - an approach from the front can easily see a leopard charge and crack its skull or break its neck on the heavy iron gates. Suddenly! A very loud echoing growl snaps through the silence of the Cedbergs still air. A Leopard!!

I can't believe it.

I sneak another quick glance hoping not to disturb it any more - it's NOT 'Johan'...a female or youngster maybe. Quickly I run back up the kloof, adrenalin pushing me to get back to the house to call the vet to assist with the darting procedure. Preparations are made - Nicole, vet, Rika du Plessis (CN Cederberg manager) & I head back down the kloof. The darting goes well, and soon we are taking measurements of a healthy young female leopard, weighing 19kg. Tisssue samples are taken for Nicoles genetics study, and the sub-adult cederberg leopard is released on site. What an amazing day! What an unbelievably beautiful animal. Now we wait patiently for the 'big boy' ...Johan

The Cape Leopard Trust Trapping Techniques

icon no trap Short overview of three trapping methods considered by the Cape Leopard Trust as safe and humane

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