Mother leopards teach their cubs to swim, climb, hunt, and how to protect themselves from predators, but this cub is going to need the help of humans to teach her to be wild!
Johannesburg, South Africa – Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation recently had the privilege of assisting with the treatment of a wild leopard in distress.
The leopard is a female, of around 8 months old only. For practical purposes, she has been named ‘Phoenix’. In Greek Mythology, the phoenix is a bird that is cyclically regenerated or born again by rising from its own ashes – the name is a tribute to this girl’s spunk and will to live.
Phoenix was about 6 months old when her mother was killed, the situation and circumstances unknown.
“It was at least another four weeks before she was finally brought to a place of safety, where she can be rehabilitated. When rescued, she had been in a filthy cage covered in faeces, for about three weeks. Her nose and paws were cut and bleeding; on certain parts of her body, the fur had been rubbed off against the sides of the cage, and you could see the beautiful rosettes that are also on their skin, not only the fur. She was in terrible shape and highly distressed. She was also one furious little leopard,” CJ Carrington explains.
Phoenix was sedated, micro-chipped, DNA samples were taken for the national Leopard database, which includes blood drawn and a couple of whiskers taken from her cheeks. She was then washed – and this proved a very difficult exercise. In certain places, the fur was so matted that the only option was to cut it off. It was very hot, and she had to be cooled down by continuously pouring water over her while we were working on her.
Her paws and nose were treated, disinfected, and wound spray used (the blue markings you can see in the pictures). The vet de-wormed her; they had never seen such a terrible infestation – a result of her time spent in her own filth. She was inoculated and left to wake up in a cool, clean enclosure with fresh water. The next day she was started on a proper diet of venison and wild birds.
“She has recovered fantastically and looks like a different leopard from the pitiful being we rescued.”
She has a clean bill of health now and will be released into a big boma within the next few days. Here she will be trained to catch her own food because she is due for release into the wild. Human interaction is not allowed, not only because she is quite capable of killing a human at this stage, but most importantly, because we want her to be wild, free, and scared of humans – that is the true nature of leopards. Leopard cubs stay with their mothers for at least two years, so this girl has a lot of learning to do, sadly, without that privilege.
“She is truly magnificent. We wish you well, Phoenix – and thank you for the privilege of letting us help you!”
Check out some of the pics from the rescue below:
CJ Carrington would also like to thank all the Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation followers and donors for helping them do the work they do.
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