Man, 84, charges at leopard

2008-09-30 08:13

Nelspruit - An 84-year-old man charged at a female leopard and beat it with his fists when the animal attacked a woman on Monday.

The sick and weakened animal was lying in 54-year-old Joey Labuschagne's garden when she tried to touch it.

A visitor, Logan Estement, 84, rushed to her assistance and was also injured as he pulled the animal off Labuschagne.

"The leopard fought back like a demon," his daughter, Sheryl Bosman, told Beeld on Monday evening.

He was bitten on the arm and broke two ribs in the struggle.

Leopard put down

The leopard was later sedated by officials from Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and taken to the state veterinarian at Skukuza, where it was put down.

State veterinarian Dr Roy Bengis said the animal had mange and there was no food in its stomach.

The leopard had been seen in Marloth Park, near Komatipoort, for the first time a few weeks ago.

On Monday, a cleaner saw the animal lying near a house in Olifant Street, according to Vincent Beumer, manager of Field Security in Marloth Park.

"When I arrived at the house, it was chaotic. There was a horde of people and some had even gotten out of their vehicles to take photographs.

In desperation Beumer parked his vehicle between the leopard and the crowd.

Leopard 'in great distress'

"I had to do something to keep the people away from the animal. It was clear that it was in great distress. It kept growling and snarling.

"The leopard later walked into Labuschagne's yard and lay down close to the house."

He left some of his security staff at the house and went to fetch a barrier. When he returned, he heard that the leopard had attacked Labuschagne.

Witnesses said she had walked up to the animal and tried to touch it, and was then attacked.

She and Estement were rushed to the Nelspruit Medi-Clinic, and were both taken into theatre on Monday night to attend to their wounds, said hospital spokesperson Robyn Baard.

"They were not seriously hurt and are in a stable condition."