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Leopard in Kruger National Park, South Africa
For illustration purposes only – not the leopard in question © Simon Espley

EDITORIAL UPDATE 7 June 2019: From SANParks: “Two leopards were shot in the immediate vicinity of the scene, an adult female and a sub-adult female and they both correspond with reports from eyewitnesses. The postmoterm on the leopards revealed that they were in very good condition with good teeth and no obvious injuries prior to death. The adult female was carrying a lot of body fat, but with an empty gut and the youngster also was in great condition with fresh impala in its stomach. This means that they were not desperate animals, and it probably was opportunistic instinct on the part of the adult.”

Media release by Communications & Marketing Department: Kruger National Park, 6 June 2019

Kruger National Park (KNP) can confirm that a leopard killed a staff member’s son last night at the Malelane Technical Services living Quarters. The toddler was only thirty months old. The incident took place at 20H00 and the boy was certified dead by doctors at the Shongwe hospital after being rushed there by family members.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African National Parks, Fundisile Mketeni has extended his condolences to the family of the deceased saying “our prayers and thoughts are with the family during this trying time, we wish them strength and will give them all the support they need as an organisation. It is never easy to lose a loved one especially under such tragic circumstances, this is the risk we live with on a daily basis as we help conserve our species for the benefit of all. May the young toddler’s soul rest in eternal peace” Mketeni concluded.

Immediately upon hearing of the incident, the Section Ranger, his Lance Corporal with help from the Regional Ranger went out to search for the animal. The offending animal was found and shot dead to remove the danger of another person falling victim – see editorial update above.

In parks like the KNP predators do interact with tourists and staff and at times it may result in species like leopard getting habituated to people and losing their fear. The change in natural behaviour can then lead to unfortunate incidents such as this. This is an unfortunate risk that staff experience when having to live and work in environments like the KNP. These events are very rare occurrences but always tragic when they do occur.

KNP Management has sent a delegation to the family to give moral support and professional counselling will be provided to all involved. The name of the deceased has been withheld and will be released once all family members have been notified.

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