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Leopard.tv article in the Wildland magazine (December 2013)

9 May 2014

 

SHAYAMANZI
Zorro, the angry male leopard (www.leopard.tv)
By Jannie Parsons

www.leopard.tvHe looks just like Zorro, with his flashing green eyes piercing though a mask. He was caught on a game farmer’s farm as a young leopard – fortunately the farmer decided not to kill him. Of the ± 28 leopards we have handled, Zorro is definitely the angriest. Maybe he has seen his mother being hurt or even killed? Leopards don’t trust humans, but Zorro was worse...If he could he would break the cage and eat you alive. I realized this once when I was outside his camp. I left Bennert, at that stage still a young boy, in the Jeep and took my revolver with me for safety reasons and walked around Zorro’s camp number 4. The next moment he stormed at me and with his young, muscled body jumped against the fence. The 10 000 volt electrical fence shocked him, but he turned around and stormed a second time, still higher against the 3 m high fence. I stood frozen to the ground and realized that I could not run, I would become like prey and he would probably jump over the fence and rip me and my son Bennert to pieces. I looked him straight in the eyes (not a good idea with a leopard that wants to rip you to pieces). I lifted my revolver and aimed at him.  If he jumps over the fence I only have one chance. His third jump was high against the fence and his intention was clear, today he is going to kill me. With his third jump he became entangled with the fence and was shocked heavily. He fell onto a large rock and urinated it wet. Fortunately nothing was the matter with him. He turned around and lay down beneath a tree. He glared at me with his green eyes. For quite a while we just looked at each other. I lowered my revolver and started talking to him. We spared each other’s lives… I told him that I was giving him another chance to survive here at Shayamanzi. He turned his head away as if he understood, got up and walked away. It was as though he was telling me that he would spare me, but not others who had hurt and angered him.

A few weeks later we put a GPS-satellite collar around his neck and released him in a large reserve where he hunted on his own and could enjoy his freedom. But, he probably ventured off to a game farmer’s farm where he was probably caught and put in a cage, as his last sms/satellite signals became silent and we never heard from Zorro again. There were several other incidents where Zorro wanted to kill people and had jumped against the fence. Except for his aggressive character, I have more questions than answers when I think of Zorro.

Do all leopards hate people? Why? Would Zorro kill someone? What had he seen and experienced as a young leopard to make him so different to the other 27 leopards? In general leopards are quiet, roar a few times, storm and then run away. Not Zorro. He roared and stormed non-stop with only one intention – to rip any human to pieces. Physically he was very healthy and beautiful, but somewhere he had seen and experienced something which could have made him a man-eater. Would he have survived if we did not let him free? Would he have torn someone at Shayamanzi apart? Did he possibly mate with a female in the reserve who also carries a man-eating gene? Did our fence-experience make him realize that not all humans want to hurt or kill leopards?

I wonder …. How many people, women and children are being hurt by other people, resulting in them hating other people… They just cannot get out of this dark, depressive hole. Could people with their savagery be so bad that they could land leopards into a depressive hole?

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