Leopard sighting

10-Leopard SpottingMurray Williams - Staff Writer

Gordon's Bay residents were  treated to rare sightings of two wild Cape leopards - trapped in a residential garden on the 23rd September.

Conservation official Hayley-May Wittridge, Area Manager of Biodiversity for the Gordon's Bay area, told the Cape Argus that the drama took place off Suikerbossie Drive, which runs high on the mountainside above the imposing multi-storey houses which overlook Clarence Drive and False Bay.

A resident had called in yesterday morning to say that she had gone down to her bottom storey, and through the glass window had been astonished to see two leopards sitting in her garden.

"We believe it was most likely a mother and a sub-adult cub," Wittridge explained.

She and a team had raced to the address and began monitoring the area. The garden was densely vegetated and upon rounding a corner, she had startled the pair. "The mother let me know that she was not happy!" Wittridge said, with some understatement. Residents in the area were then warned to keep indoors and not to venture out into their gardens.

"One woman had been about to walk her Maltese poodle, and we asked her to please wait!" Wittridge said. 

A team of experts was summoned to be on standby to dart the creatures if had been required, "but we were still confident that they would be able to find an escape route by themselves," Wittridge said. 

A team of scouts had been posted for several hours thereafter, until they were certain that the creatures had made their way back up the mountainside into the wild fynbos which leads up towards the Steenbras Dam on the other side of the mountain.

Wittridge expressed delight at the sightings and said they believed there were at least 11 leopards in the mountains between the Helderberg and across the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which lies between the coastal towns of Gordon's Bay, Rooi Els and Kleinmond and the mountains above Grabouw.

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