Man tells of leopard attack
Seugnet Esterhuyse, Beeld
Pretoria - A man has told how he used his bicycle as a shield to protect himself as an enraged leopard attacked him.
"The Lord was next to me," said Pieta Ncube, 39, who was attacked by a leopard which had just freed itself from a wire trap near a game farm close to the Dikhololo holiday resort, about 20km outside Brits in the North West.
Ncube said he was cycling to work from his house in Waterval at about 05:00 on Tuesday morning and was about 9km from the main road between Brits and Thabazimbi when he suddenly heard something behind him.
"I slowed down to see what was behind me." He stopped and the leopard suddenly attacked from behind.
"I was just able to use my bike to stop him getting me."
He did this by managing to trap the leopard's two front legs in the triangle of the bike's frame so that the animal wasn't able to move freely and couldn't reach him with his teeth.
"The leopard's head stuck out just above the saddle," said Ncube. The leopard was however still able to inflict bloody scratches to Ncube's face and head.
Ncube took a loose steel bar that he had on his bike to finally frighten off the leopard, after which the animal disappeared through a fence on the other side of the road.
"I then took off my shirt and wrapped it around my head to stop the bleeding and called my boss to come and fetch me.
Ncube's employer, Hennie Brits, 50, said he couldn't believe it when Ncube said he was attacked by a leopard while on his bike.
"You have a greater chance of winning the lotto twice than being caught by a leopard on your bike," he said.
Brits was on the scene in less than 10 minutes and took Ncube to hospital, where his injuries were treated. He will need injections every third day for a month.
Leopard trapped in snare
There are indications that shortly before the attack on Ncube, the leopard had been fighting for its life after becoming trapped in a wire snare on a game fence.
Nails and hair near the trap showed how the leopard struggled to free itself.
Brits said poachers regularly set such traps to catch warthog and other small game.
Hencke Marais of Tshwane nature conservation's specialist services said warthogs and leopards can't be kept in by game fences as they are animals that roam free.
"Nine out of ten leopard attacks are fatal. Ncube was therefore very lucky," said Marais.
If wild animals are injured or trapped, they are even more dangerous.
If the leopard was not too badly injured he would go as far away as possible from the place of the incident, said Marais.
"The leopard's chances of survival depend on how deep the wire trap cut into his skin."