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Leopard stories

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Leopard.tv article in the Wildland (December 2014)

10 February 2015


...(Read Part 1 of Zan)
...(Read Part 3 of Zan)

SHAYAMANZI Zan (Part 2 of 3)
Leopards (www.leopard.tv)
By Jannie Parsons

www.leopard.tvI could hear my heart pounding, smelled him, saw may own reflection in his eyes and heard the camera rolling. He asks ”Why?” I say, “I can explain”!! He is in the cage, a prisoner, but dominates the one metre space between our eyes. I am outside the cage, but a scared prisoner of the pair of eyes that pierces you, hypnotises you and paralyses your whole body with a mixture of fear and respect.

He breaks the silence and again jumps against the cage, leaving his head bloody, and he growls, uncommon to these silent, loner cats of the night. It is as if he is shouting out at me that everything is to no avail, as if he wants to say I don’t understand his story anyway, as if his fate has been sealed, I am going to kill him in any event... His body language is one of absolute discouragement. I put the camera to one side, sat flat on the ground, folded my arms around my knees and with an uncomfortable calmness I looked for his eyes. He quickly looked and looked away again, then turned his head and watched me calmly. For seconds, which felt like minutes, we exchanged thoughts. With a wavering, calm and at times excited voice I tried to ensure him that this was something different, not a death message but an eternity moment. He was caught and would receive a GPS collar that could possibly give information to us at Shayamanzi to be able to understand more of his mysterious world. With better understanding we could tell others and try to find a solution, in order to balance the human-leopard conflict. This understanding, which we can spread by means of film and words could help to contribute to conserve leopards for our children.

Suddenly a gunshot sounds... The vet, oblivious of the supernatural moments between man and leopard, shoots the leopard in the cage. It only takes a few seconds for the leopard to slowly come to rest with his head close to me. Suddenly he looks so calm and innocent. The anaesthetic quickly lulled him to sleep.

The leopard is weighed, measured and photographed from all angles. His paws are washed with soap water to make cement prints of these large, soft paws. The prints were built into a round cement square near Leopard Castle in 2010.

The leopard is named after me; Zan for Jan with the “Z”, which indicates that leopards may be the Z in the alphabet for game farmers, but for us they are the A in the alphabet and an A priority to conserve them.

Dr Niel Kriel, the vet, places the GPS collar (radio, cell phone, and satellite) around Zan’s neck. With the collar we trespass into his private space and we know where, when and how far he moves around.

It was time to wake Zan with an injection.… (Next read Zan, Part 3 of 3)


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