Leopard in territory battle?

2001-03-08 19:33

Skukuza - A leopard that killed a woman in the Skukuza staff village in the Kruger National Park on Tuesday afternoon, may have been driven into the village because of territorial competition, said manager of game capture Douw Grobler on Thursday.

He said the leopard that killed Kotie de Beer, 49, had scratches on its body that indicated it had fought with other male leopards, possibly over territory.

"ItÆs not in a leopardÆs nature to attack people, unless something, like social competition, drives them to do it," said Grobler.

De Beer had lived in the village for 15 years with her husband, Nick, who works in the parkÆs human resource division.

Staff members who were driving past chased the leopard off, but were too late to save De Beer.

Rangers cordoned off the area and trapped and shot the animal. It was about five years old and weighed 55kg. An autopsy revealed stomach and heart problems, associated with stress, said Grobler.

He said further tests would be done at a Pretoria laboratory.

This is the third reported leopard attack on people in the park in the past ten years.

The first incident was reported in 1992 when a security guard was attacked and killed at Shingwedzi bridge.

A nature conservation student was killed at Matshulu bridge in 1999.

Police and officials suspect that a leopard may also have attacked field ranger Salamoa Mongwe, who was then savaged and eaten, possibly by hyenas, in September last year.

Only MongweÆs torn clothes, identity book, boots and bank card were found in blood-stained grass near the staff quarters on September 4.

There were signs of leopard and hyena in the area and bits of flesh found at the scene have been sent for forensic tests.

The leopard would not have dragged the body away, said Grobler. - African Eye News Service