A leopard found herself stranded on a cliff face on the Storms River and attracted the attention of both the National Sea Rescue Institue (NSRI) and SA National Park rangers. The two parties joined forces in an attempt to rescue the distressed animal, but were ultimately unsuccessful. In a public statement on the NSRI website, Lodewyk van Rensburg, NSRI Storms River and NSRI Oyster Bay Station Commander, described the events.
The first to spot the stranded animal were kayakers from Untouched Adventures, which included NSRI Storms River crew who are also SA National Park rangers. It is now believed that the leopard, estimated to be about three years old, may have fallen down the cliff and got stranded on a cliff face near the water’s edge. The NSRI and SA National Parks were alerted and promptly launched a rescue operation.
NSRI rescue crafts were launched, accompanied by SA National Park rangers and NSRI Storms River and NSRI Oyster Bay duty crew members. A SA National Parks Veterinary Surgeon also joined the rescue operation. A kayak and basket stretcher were taken along in the likely situation that the darted leopard may land in the water.
When the rescue party arrived on the scene, they found the leopard already partly submerged due to the incoming tide.
The leopard was carefully darted under the guidance of SA National Park rangers and their vet, and, as anticipated, she immediately leaped in the water and swam towards the boats. She appeared to head straight towards to kayak in an assumed attack, and the rangers were able to lasso a rope around her neck to prevent her from drowning due to her injuries or the effects of the tranquilisers. Using the rope, the leopard was eventually pulled onto the kayak and then recovered onto the NSRI rescue craft.
The rescue party moved the subdued leopard to the Storms River Mouth and secured her into the basket stretcher before loading her into a vehicle. She was taken to SANParks in Gqeberha to receive treatment for her injuries.
Unfortunately, she suffered a fractured femur and multiple other serious injuries. Despite extensive efforts to save the leopard, the decision was made to humanely euthanise her.
Lodewyk van Rensburg praised the rescuers in spite of the unfortunate outcome. “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,” said Van Rensburg.
Picture: National Sea Rescue Institute