This song was inspired by Lennie!
A farmer in the Mopane area in Limpopo called Green Dogs Conservation about a small leopard in its storeroom. They have been trying to catch it, but it keeps escaping and they are somewhat afraid of it - it is only a cub but very ferocious!
Where is its mother? No one knows. Are there any traces of its mother looking for the cub? No one knows, but the small leopard is a problem for the workers and it has been there for a few days now, they need someone to come and catch the cub and take it away please.
Shrouded in mystery and apparent conflict, Rox from Green Dogs Conservation went to the farm and caught the little leopard quite easily, it was weak and slow from a lack of feeding. After looking around and questioning the farm workers, the mystery of the leopard cub appearing in the storeroom stayed a mystery. Since the cub have been there for several days without any sign of the mother or the cub's original birth place, it was decided to take it along and try to save it. It definitely seemed to have the fighting spirit for it!
Here is Rox's report, who did a great job on saving the cub:
Friday 4th August:
The leopard was loose in a farm storeroom when I picked it up. There was a cage in there but the leopard kept escaping from it. There was water available but the only food out was a piece of warthog head and some strips of warthog skin. As soon as the leopard was out of the cage this was as unavailable as it was unsuitable. It seems this pattern of escaping and being recaught was fairly frequent and the cub was extremely stressed. It was very dehydrated and emaciated. It was estimated to be about 8 weeks old.
Lennie was weak and caught easily
There are some scratches on the cub but it has shown no signs of infection. Without any indication of infection, topical treatment was not given to avoid further stress.
It was decided to try to orally rehydrate the cub as a first option to avoid further delay and stress. It was very weak and would not drink from a bowl. Water and hydration fluids were offered directly under its mouth on a spoon and it eventually took approximately 600ml over the course of the afternoon and night. Following this, it has been drinking water independently and has fresh, clean water available all the time.
There was a very fresh road kill scrub hare on the way home so this was picked up. It was opened and the intestines were removed but the rest of the hare was offered as is. Feeding advice came through from the vet and this was to offer 50g minced chicken with the extra supplements and pro-biotics. I did not have this available immediately so I added finely chopped chicken hearts (for taurine) into free range beef mince. The mince was lean so chopped sheep fat was added to the mix. I used a milk formula for puppy and kitten milk replacer and the milk was added to the mince mixture and offered on the first day from a spoon to try to get something into its stomach. It took approximately between 50 and 70 grams at a time, at roughly 2 hourly intervals on the first day.
Saturday 5th August:
The scrub hare was completely finished over night, with only legs, head, spine and skin left over. All organs, muscle meat and small bones were eaten. This is extremely encouraging because it shows that it is old enough to be able to shear meat off bones and eat a more natural diet. A whole carcass like that will provide a good natural balance of the required nutrients. The mix of minced beef and the supplements was offered 4 times as prescribed but it ate only relatively small amounts (+ - 50g a time), but this is to be expected as it had eaten a significant amount the night before.
Lennie ate the hare clean
The following picture was sent to Dr Peter Caldwell to age the cub from the teeth and he estimated it was actually about 12 weeks old. The malnutrition and small size contributed to the earlier estimation of 8 weeks and 2kgs. 12 weeks old is a good thing because it is closer to natural weaning age and so will require less intervention.
Lennie's teeth is already quite long, putting her age around 12 weeks
The cub was not weighed as there was no practical way to do so available, and it will be hard to repeat, so daily photographs of its condition are being taken as an alternative way to monitor recovery.
Sunday 6th August
A second Scrub hare was given with the intestines removed, along with the meat mix meals throughout the day.
Monday 7th August
The entire hare carcass had been stripped and the remains were removed. The meat mix fed were given three times today.
Tuesday 8th August
Four meat mix meals were eaten during the day and a third Scrub Hare were given in the evening intact.
Lennie quickly regained strength
Wednesday 9th August
The cub had eaten the muscle meat from the back legs but had not managed to open the body cavity so I opened it, removed the intestines and gave it back. It fed on the carcass throughout the day, as well as having 2 small meals of the meat mix.
Thursday 10th August
The remaining hare carcass was removed and a meat mix meal was fed prior to the cub being collected by DeWildt / Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre who has better facilities and more experience with handling predators.
Deon from De Wildt / Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre picked up the cub from Green Dogs Conservation after arranging for all the necessary permits. The cub looked much better and lively by this time and looked like it will pull through, but it still needed a special diet of softer meat parts and supplements, like it would have gotten from its mother at its current age.
After transferring the cub to the De Wildt / Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre facillities, Shayamanzi Game was contacted for its long term care. De Wildt / Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre have great facilities, but their focus is much more on Cheetah conservation. Shayamanzi Game have reputably the best leopard holding facilities and the necessary experience and permits to take good care of the leopard cub.
In short order, the cub was transferred to Shayamanzi Game ranch where it will have more rest and isolation from people. What will the name be of this little leopard cub who showed the great fighting spirit of leopards?
The name was decided on Lennie, the leopard.
Follow Lennie's story in the next weeks and months as it grows up to be a strong and independent leopard. It will need great care with its feeding and home, but with such a fighting spirit there can only be one outcome for it: survival!
Next part of Lennie's story coming soon: The homecoming