A South African woman has been seriously injured in an attack by a male leopard at Matopi 1 Camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Unusually, she was inside her tent when the attack took place. This account of the attack was posted on 4x4community.co.za forum:
On the night of the 4th of January my wife, myself and another two friends set up camp at Matopi 1 on the way to the South African side of the park. We were in two vehicles, ourselves in a ground tent the other vehicle a rooftop tent.
We ate dinner, built up the fire and burned our leftovers and trash. I went for a leak a little way from my vehicle and spotted a leopard lying in the road about 50m from camp. I called the others to come and have a look and we stood at my vehicle observing him. He paid us no attention and got up and started moving to our camp.
We backed away to the other side of the camp to the other vehicle and him, taking pictures and keeping a light trained on him. He moved around the camp lying down next to each vehicle, sniffing our chairs, completely relaxed and paying us no mind.
We had put the dishes in the back of the other vehicle so that they weren’t an enticement for the animal.
At about 11pm we wanted to go to bed and I got in my vehicle and started it in the hope that he would take the hint and depart, but he was completely unfazed and we guessed that he was habituated to humans which was saddening.
He moved off a little later, clearly having lost interest in the camp site and went into the bush on the side he came from. We occasionally picked up the glint of his eyes about 200m off.
We decided that it should be safe enough to sleep in our tent, as our understanding was that animals consider them to be inanimate structures with no connection to having us inside, and that humans are not a food source for these animals.
How wrong we were!
At just after 12 midnight, I woke up to my wife screaming in terror with the leopard tearing into her leg trying to drag her out of the tent. I dived to the bottom of the tent and tried to find his eyes to get my fingers into him. At this point he let go and ran off.
I located my torch to assess the damage to her leg, which was horrific. My wife started screaming that the leopard was back and I turned to find him stalking towards us about 10m away.
I rushed out of the tent, grabbed a spade and charged him screaming as loudly as I could, and he ran off with me in pursuit for about 100m.
By this stage my wife had managed to get herself to the vehicle which was about 5m from our tent.
My friend set up spots and kept an eye on him with our really powerful torch while I cleaned and dressed the wounds, which were absolutely horrific with serious bleeding, but I did not see any spurting of blood, just a steady, very heavy flow.
After dressing and bandaging as best as I could, we threw everything into our vehicles with each of us keeping watch for the other party. All of this time the leopard was moving around and never backing away.
So the drive from hell to Nossob began at 12:30 on the morning of the 5th.
Thanks to all the cretins who see fit to drive with over-inflated tyres and not full four- wheel-drive engaged. My wife was in agony and bled through three pillows and duvet as I changed them every hour to try and assess blood loss.
We arrived at Nossob to a locked gate and no medical facilities whatsoever, and another 165km drive on sand and gravel to Twee Rivieren where we were finally met by an ambulance, and another two-and-a-half hour drive to Upington, where thankfully there was an orthopaedic surgeon in theatre on another case when we arrived.
Miraculously, though both tendons on either side of the artery were severely damaged, the artery was unharmed. My wife is currently in hospital with a crushed heel requiring screws and severe wounding requiring plastic surgery.
Her leg is saved and there is no infection thanks be to God who saw us through this absolutely terrifying ordeal.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the amazing doctor we met in the campsite in Nossob who redressed the wound and gave us advice on how to proceed (the only person who happened to be awake in the entire campsite when I decided to go and wake the entire site to see if I could find a doctor!) The rangers were completely at a loss what to do.
As well as to the amazing staff and surgeon at Upington Mediclinic – you will not find better at any of the major hospitals – (this comes from one of the top surgeons in Cape Town, high praise indeed.)
I believe that no ground tents should be allowed in the unfenced portion of any of the parks and that tyre pressures should be checked upon entrance. Had there been arterial bleeding, the state of the road would have proved the death of my wife.
Quite honestly I would push for the banning of all-wheel-drive SUV vehicles [vehicles without low-range gears] as well, as I believe these also are not up to the task of dealing with these roads and keeping them in a decent state.
This article first appeared on Safarious and is republished with the editor’s kind permission.