Leopard shot at Skukuza camp
Johannesburg - A leopard was shot by park rangers at the Skukuza rest camp in the Kruger National Park on Thursday, a park spokesperson said on Friday.
Laura Mukwevho said the animal somehow managed to gain entry into one of the guest houses, and then jumped to another guest house when it saw monkeys there.
"Upon arrival the game capture team decided that urgent action needs to be taken to prevent a possible attack on or injury to guests who were there".
The leopard was trapped in the courtyard and experiences with previous similar incidents led the team to decide to rather put the leopard down, Mukwevho said in a statement.
She said leopards are highly territorial animals and if the captured leopard was to be released nearby, it would simply have returned to its favourite haunts.
To capture and release the animal elsewhere within the park was not an option because all suitable habitats were already occupied by leopards who would not tolerate any intrusion into their territory.
"Any wild animal which roams around in daylight and gets trapped within a confined space such as a house with people milling around is bound to be dangerous and it is simply not worth taking the risk of someone getting injured or killed."
Two section rangers have been bitten and seriously injured in the past when trying to chase leopards out of the camp and park management was not "keen on taking the risk with capturing it".
"As much as we regret the killing of any animals in the park, the potential injury risk to guests or staff sometimes necessitates harsh action. Each case is however treated on merit, taking all possible factors into account".