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October 2014 Wildland article (Article only published in Afrikaans)

3 October 2014

 

SHAYAMANZI
Leopards (www.leopard.tv)
www.leopard.tvZUP - Jannie Parsons

Shayamanzi game reserve was registered on 1 September 1989. At that stage, the Vaalwater and Ellisras areas in the Bushveld were better known for their cattle farms than game farms. This environment was still very pristine and untamed. We thought that if we could convert the many fountains, streams and small lakes into beautiful dams and streams, Shayamanzi could become a unique water and mountain farm. Shayamanzi is the Zulu word for “Hit the water”. Today, 25 years later, Shayamanzi is indeed a mountain and water farm, but has become the ideal place to stay for the Waterberg leopard. Shayamanzi’s logo always had the leopard as the core of each design. The mystery in the eyes of the leopard has become an integral part of the Shayamanzi way of life and discussions. Leopards have always been the subject of telephone discussions and talks around the fire.

In 2001 we decided to start intensive studies of the leopard at Shayamanzi, together with Prof J du P Bothma of the University of Pretoria.

Z-UP (the UP stands for University of Pretoria) was the first leopard that received a radio collar after he was caught near the Tamboti River, more of a dry river bed that meanders through Shaymanzi’s northern part. The GPS collar around ZUP’s neck wasn’t very successful and it was difficult to receive the signal from among the mountains and shrubbery.

A few photos were taken of ZUP and the local vet in Ellisras put the collar around his neck. ZUP was the start of a long and exciting road that Shayamanzi would walk with leopards. ZUP awoke something in us. He really made us wonder what the secrets were behind these mysterious cats. Why do the cattle farmers hate them with such a passion? As a young cattle and game farmer, it is the first thing that neighbours tell you, even “order” you to do, and that is to make the leopard your enemy number one. Clearly leopards were not the farmers’ A priority, but their Z priority. We there and then decided to start all the names of the leopards we would deal with or do studies on, with a Z. The first male we caught actually got the name UP, for University of Pretoria, as it was the start of our leopard project. With the Z the last letter in the alphabet, Shayamanzi decided to make the Z an A priority. Therefore all the leopard names start with a Z. Therefore UP became ZUP. This young, small cat with his rosette-formed spots, yellow-brown fur and mysterious, intense, green eyes was the first concrete step that Shayamanzi took in 2001 to conserve leopards in the Waterberg, to study them and to film and photograph as much of them as possible.

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