Rare leopard spotted in SA reserve

2012-04-16 10:14

Cape Town - A rare strawberry-colour leopard has been photographed roaming a game reserve in Mpumalanga, a report says.

National Geographic reported on Thursday that photographer and safari guide Deon de Villiers sent a photo to experts at a US-based wild cat conservation group asking them about the animal’s strange colouration.

Tourists have occasionally seen the big cat. Normal leopards have a tawny coat with black spots.

The president of the cat conservation group, Luke Hunter, told National Geographic that the leopard might have erythrism, a little-understood genetic condition that's thought to cause either an overproduction of red pigments or an underproduction of dark pigments.


"It's really rare - I don't know of another credible example in leopards," said Hunter.

He added: "It's surprising that [a photo of the leopard] didn't come out sooner, because he's relatively used to vehicles."

Erythrism is very unusual in carnivores, and the condition appears most often in raccoons, Eurasian badgers, and coyotes, Hunter told the nature magazine.

While the cat seems to have managed thus far as a carnivore despite his unusual fur, should he venture outside of Madikwe reserve, he will lose the strict protection that it offers and become fair game for trophy hunting, said Hunter.

"It's the fate of a lot of leopards."

- Have you spotted the leopard or any other rare animal? Let us know

  • Kalai - 2012-04-16 10:34

    tag it and monitor its movements, it should not be hunted.

      Richard - 2012-04-16 10:52

      Thats it, give the hunters new ideas wont you...

      Scebberish - 2012-04-16 15:50

      If you can monitor it, so can any hacker.

      TSR01 - 2012-04-17 09:45

      Aside from the tracking being a fair idea, I need to mention, I'm tracking something else; "A rare strawberry-colour leopard has been photographed roaming a game reserve in Mpumalanga, a report says." Not sure how accurate that photo is next to seeing it first-hand, but last I saw, a strawberry was either mild to dark red - usually with high saturation. Unless they're trying to imply that its pink, without actually saying that. :)

      Gieljam - 2012-04-17 11:49

      Well said Kalai , I actually think it has something to do with the quality of the water . also noticed some crabs on the cost having pinkish white colour's they also moved slowly and did not try to run away obviously not feeling very well , leopard also doesn't seem to care.

  • Allan - 2012-04-16 10:56

    Madikwe isn't in Mpumalanga.

      Angela - 2012-04-17 13:26

      There are several Madikwe lodges and reserves... Google is your friend. I have been to the Mpumalanga one, where I did some of my game ranger training.

  • Ronelle - 2012-04-16 11:00

    i just hope he doesn't become "fair game" - i can't imagine anyone wanting to kill such an awesome, rare creature. Then again, we live in a sick, self-obsessed world..

      zaatheist - 2012-04-16 14:39

      All hunters should be released in the Kruger Park as 8pm with a catty.

  • Shannon - 2012-04-16 11:30

    So sad that we can't all just enjoy news like this without worrying that it is going to be on a hunters 'shopping" list :( Thanks to the photographer for sharing such a beautiful image anyway.

  • Rowan Cranston - 2012-04-16 12:06

    At a time when poaching is so rife in our country, articles like this one should NOT get broadcast!

  • Michele - 2012-04-16 12:33

    How irresponsible of you to publish this? We have been trying to keep him out of the news and protected for over 3 years now. I cannot believe you can be so irresponsible!

  • Monique - 2012-04-16 13:20

    Why oh Why do we need to give its precise location?

  • Tygerr - 2012-04-16 14:14

    Relax, it's not a strawberry coloured leopard. He just forgot to change the white balance settings on his camera... :-p

      Lesawana - 2012-04-16 15:39

      You are so right. People must look at the picture bachground and they will see it is also strawberry coloured.

      Scebberish - 2012-04-16 15:48

      Strawberry fields forever!

  • Samantha - 2012-04-16 14:40

    Oh God! if u are there, pls keep this beautiful animal safe from trigger happy bastards out there-

  • Scebberish - 2012-04-16 15:46

    Well done! You probably just condemned it to death.Is it a prerequisite to have an IQ in the negative range to be a reporter, or is there just a shortage so any idiot qualifies!

  • Scebberish - 2012-04-16 15:56

    I just love it............ report starts. CAPE TOWN. then goes on to say"a report says" and "Tourists have occasionally seen" then finally asking "Have you spotted the leopard or any other rare animal? Let us know:" this from a so called "reporter" no less! Why dont you get off your lazy useless fat ars3 and go do what you are paid to do, idiot????

  • israel.khumalo - 2012-04-16 16:51

    This photo is cooked by a crook, look at the woods at the background. Ai ai khona sgebenga, news24 "lies and more lies".

  • Dave - 2012-04-16 18:44

    Adjust your camera settings

  • wooshie72 - 2012-04-16 19:17

    Madikwe GR in Mpumalanga. That's even more unusual than a strawberry coloured leopard.

  • Rowan - 2012-04-16 20:16

    Dodgy story!!

  • Ken - 2012-04-16 23:11

    This leopard is just like the bank notes that gets stolen from the cash in transit vans, as soon as you take the money out the box it releases a pink dye, with the leopard if you get near him for trophy hunting he turns pink!

  • Dave - 2012-04-17 06:32

    Sounds like an April fools joke !

  • Neil - 2012-04-17 07:02

    I find it strange how all comments blame the photographer for potentially opening this up to Hunters. Perhaps one should blame the Hunters, and see this article and picture for what it really is - an amazingly rare sighting which should be shared with the world. Besides - It seems it was the Head of Panthera that published the article with National Geographic initially - and he should be more qualified than anyone else to make such a decision. Perhaps publicity like this can now be used in a positive light to channel funds into researching and protecting such a different animal. Thanks to Deon for this Photo - WONDERFUL!

  • nicole.southgate1 - 2012-04-17 07:06

    Ok, so now his existence has been broadcast to thousands of hunters - clever of these idiots to even mention it

  • FeebleGastro - 2012-04-17 08:39

    Some woman probably dyed the poor thing pink.

      Stirrer - 2012-04-18 10:03

      Bulls supporter?

  • Dhavandran - 2012-04-17 12:32

    leave the majestic beast in peace and forget about its whereabouts. no more attention to it or soon it will appear in china as an aphrodiasic.

  • Preshen - 2012-04-17 15:47

    A Leopard will not cheat on his wife but a tiger wood

  • rina.breed - 2012-04-17 16:00

    Please do not tell the Trump family!

  • Ken - 2012-04-17 16:11

    Keep the Trump sons away from it...

  • Christopher - 2012-04-17 16:16

    True beauty at its best.

      Nicholas - 2012-04-17 17:53

      Agreed, what a beautiful animal ..

  • Paul - 2012-04-17 16:57

    Quickly Mtambo, pass my rifle!!! This skin will look wonderfull on my study wall and be a great boost for the macho great white hunters ego!!!

  • smurfie6803 - 2012-04-17 20:16

    I saw this Leopard at Madikwe in July 2011. It was lying in a tree next to the Main Road near Madikwe River Lodge. Its front legs were hanging out of the tree. When our guide drove towards it, it slid down the tree trunk,sat under the tree for a minute or so and then slunk away. What an awesome sight it was. It is very pale - almost Albino like - definitely not strawberry in colour - very light skin..

  • Travers - 2012-04-18 08:59

    ginger leopard, lol cant become a pirate :)

  • Ingi - 2012-04-18 09:17

    Oh dear, what a tragedy that that beautiful animal's 'home' has been made public. Some trophy hunter will be there in a flash to blat out another wonderful animal on our sad, over-populated planet where all anybody can ever think of is either 'feathering their nest' or getting some egostitical mileage out at something elses expense!!!

  • peter.petterson1 - 2012-04-18 09:47

    An unusual colour?

  • Nick - 2012-04-18 10:42

    Beautiful... :) The magnificence of Creation and Mother Nature.. :)

  • karine.fezoua - 2012-04-18 11:02

    Why animals hunting is always allowed in Africa ? I am truly shocked to discover animals hunting magazines in SA.

      Stirrer - 2012-04-18 11:09

      If I had to discover an animal hunting a magazine, I'd also be shocked.

  • John - 2012-04-19 11:21

    We translocated pale coloured leopard near Brits, NW in July 2011. We have hair samples with (root follicle) in tact and can send to lab should we need to know something on genetics of this. I can comfirm that I have heard of that animal in that park. North West not Mpumalanga ofcourse !

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