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Zaza - Introduction

23 November 2012

The more than 20 leopards we have dealt with at Shayamanzi since 2001 were all very special. Shayamanzi’s theme song The eyes of secret, written by Rudi Claase, is dedicated to all Shayamanzi’s leopards, those in the camps, the wild leopards on the farm and all the leopards that have been let free at Shayamanzi and left the farm into the Waterberg.

Each leopard that we have handled has rendered a contribution towards unravelling the mystery surrounding leopards. Zaza and her sister Ziana arrived at Shayamanzi in March 2007. Both sisters were approximately 11 years old. They weren´t tame enough for one to enter their camp, but they weren´t shy of people either. Since March 2007 there have been many pleasant, sad, beautiful, angry, anxious, worried, interesting, day, night, summer, winter, romantic, moody film star moments and incidents that will in time be described under Leopard characters.

The pairing session of Zaza and Ziana with Zoy, and the events with Zaza afterwards were just as beautiful, unique and sad so that we decided to use her as our first character. The Zaza song is dedicated to her and we believe and trust that this song will have an awareness creating effect worldwide of the survival crises that these endangered cats face. The music video shows a beautiful and romantic part of leopards that is seldom seen or filmed. The urgency accompanying their pairing sessions is almost as if the females want to show the world that their survival as a species is in danger. With their body language (dance) they ask and plead, not only for the male’s attention and action, but for all humanity to acknowledge them and to judge them on facts and not on perceptions.

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Name and gender

www.leopard.tvZaza is a female leopard. The previous owner of the leopards had named her Anna, but we renamed her after deciding to give all the leopards that we handled names starting with Z. The idea came from the ‘z’ in Shayamanzi and the fact that z is the last letter of the alphabet and serves to remind us that most game farmers and hunters do not regard leopards very highly. That is how Anna became Zaza and her younger sister Diana became Ziana.

  

Background

Zaza and her sister Ziana arrived at Shayamanzi together after I had been approached by Deon Celliers, formerly of De Wildt Cheetah, with a request to provide the two leopards with a home until they died. The farm on which they had grown up without a mother had been sold and the permits would not be transferred. They could not be set free since, although they would not remain tame, they did not have the natural fear of humans that is characteristic of animals in the wild and would therefore pose a threat to people with whom they came in contact. The alternative was to have them put down since at the age of approximately 11 years the two sisters were already relatively old.

This was not an option we were prepared to consider, so we immediately agreed to adopt them and give them a second chance. We decided to give each of them an enclosure of one hectare in their natural habitat on the mountain, where there were trees, shrubs, holes, rocks, water and shelters, as well as a small camp for the veterinary surgeon, far from the roads and disturbances caused by the daily traffic on the farm. These enclosures are called Leopard Kingdom and they are indeed a mountain kingdom for the leopards of Shayamanzi. Our home, Leopard Castle, was later built next to the enclosures.

These hills/mountains are part of the Waterberg Mountain range in the Bushveld, but we call them the Makoppa, which is the Tshwana name for the black mamba. These snakes, which are quite common in the area, are among the world’s most toxic snakes, but the leopards share their habitat with them. Leopards, black mambas, enclosures and castles make Leopard Castle and Leopard Kingdom on the Makoppa hills in the Bushveld’s Waterberg Mountains a rather scary and mysterious environment – especially at night when the sounds of leopards and night owls mingle with those of strong winds and sometimes thunder, while lightning flashes on the hilltops and the moon peeps through the clouds. It is leopard country!

 

Date of arrival

Zaza and her sister arrived at Shayamanzi on 4 March 2007, when they were approximately 11½ years old. In the wild, a leopard’s life expectancy is about 12-15 years, but if the conditions are favourable, they can live to the age of 20 in captivity.

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