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