NSRI Storms River and NSRI Oyster Bay duty crews were activated to join SA National Park rangers in an effort to save a leopard stranded on a cliff face at the marine section of the Storms River Gorge on Friday.
Lodewyk van Rensburg, NSRI Storms River and NSRI Oyster Bay Station Commander, said that kayakers from Untouched Adventures, which included NSRI Storms River crew who are SA National Park rangers, had raised the alarm. NSRI and SA National Parks then launched a rescue operation.
NSRI Storms River and NSRI Oyster Bay duty crews responded with NSRI rescue craft. SA National Park rangers and an SA National Parks Vet also responded.
It is suspected that the leopard, a female estimated to be about three years old, may have fallen down the cliff and was stranded on a cliff face near the water's edge.
NSRI Oyster Bay’s Rescue 36 Bravo, Caltex Challenger 2, and NSRI Storms River Rescue 46, Spirit of Tsitsikamma, were launched, accompanied by SA National Park rangers and their veterinary surgeon.
"A kayak and a Stokes basket stretcher were taken along as it was expected that after darting the leopard, she may go into attack mode and may very well land in the water. On arrival on the scene, in an incoming tide, the leopard was found to already be on the water's edge with part of her body submerged as the wave sets came in.
"Under the guidance of SA National Park rangers and their vet, the leopard was darted and she immediately swam towards the boats. The kayak was positioned alongside the rescue craft. The leopard appeared to attack the kayak when a rope was able to be lassoed around her neck to prevent her from drowning," Van Rensburg explained.
He added that the leopard was pulled onto the kayak using the rope and then recovered onto the NSRI rescue craft.
"Subdued by the dart, the leopard was brought to Storms River Mouth and secured into the Stokes basket stretcher, loaded into a vehicle and taken to SANParks in Gqeberha. With a fractured femur and multiple injuries, sadly, despite extensive efforts to save the leopard, she was humanely euthanised by the vets," he added.
"NSRI commend our NSRI rescue teams from Oyster Bay and Storms River and we commend the SA National Parks team for the incredible efforts employed to try to save the leopard. The NSRI Storms River rescue crew are all SA National Parks rangers from Tsitsikamma National Parks."
ISSUED BY THE NSRI