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November 2013 Wildland article

24 April 2014


...(Read Part 1 of Ziana the female leopard at Shayamanzi)

Leopard mystery project
Jannie Parsons
Ziana, female leopard spares my life

Part 2 of 2: Fortunately my loyal staff had opened the gate to her camp in the meantime. She had turned around and was on her way back.
The moment she was alongside the open gate I threw a piece of meat into the camp. She heard and saw it, stopped and fortunately trotted into her camp, took the meat and went deeper into the camp. Within seconds the gate was closed and the electric wires switched on. I heard the anxious calls from our magazine guest and staff. I answered in a quivering voice that Ziana and the dear Lord had spared me this time around.
One question remains going through my head! Why hadn’t she killed me anyway, then taken the meat and gone off?
The answer will probably always remain a mystery, but I have a gut feeling. Adriaan, my technology specialist, tried to film our guest’s visit in Pretoria with one of the unmanned video cameras. He could film parts of the incident with Ziana and on my still camera there were a few skew and out of focus photographs.
While studying the photographs, the video shots and the images of Ziana in my subconscious, we try to unravel Ziana’s mysterious behaviour, who runs towards me but does not attack me. The film material shows that she trotted calmly and did not seem aggressive. Her ears weren’t flat against her head, although she was focused. What does make Ziana dangerous is that she is not shy of humans and therefore very unpredictable.
My gut feel is that over a period of five years, with many hours spent with food and a camera next to her and her sister, ZaZa’s camps, a special relationship has developed between us. Her body language indicated that she only wanted her meat back and did not want to harm me. Obviously I also want to convince myself that Ziana knows the hate for leopards and that she is well looked after at Shayamanzi. Sometimes one gets discouraged and it seems as if leopards will not survive.


www.leopard.tvIf each game farmer only keeps two leopards in a camp with rocks, bush and trees and consider tourism, photography and even breeding (given permits), then 20 000 leopards can survive among 10 000 game farmers, even if it is in a large camp, i.e. not in a small, cement cage. Leopards are angry enough with each other to defend their territory to death. Much prey, and wrong prey for the environment, does attract many leopards, but the ratio remains intact. Kudu (ewes) prices remain low as their numbers remain high and they walk and breed among the leopards in the mountains, while a blesbuck will struggle to survive in the bushveld, even if it lives on a plain. Therefore, this is not a leopard problem, but a blesbuck problem or even worse, a problem caused by a management decision taken by a human.
Ziana, who definitely spared my life, encouraged me and strengthened my belief that Shayamanzi should continue to give leopards a second chance. During 12 years, 28 leopards have had a second chance at Shayamanzi. Our vision to fight for the survival of the leopard has not changed and with some balanced choices and even love for predators they can survive.
This story of Ziana has motivated us to have a song written, as we did for her sister, Zaza.
The Ziana song was written by Machiel Roets and is sung by Bobby van Jaarsveld. This is the third song in the Shayamanzi series and can also be bought, click here.


Click here to buy music, videos and images

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