Cape Times

Leopard killing toddler a ‘rare occurrence’


A LEOPARD entering the Malelane technical services living quarters at the Kruger National Park (KNP) and killing a 2-year-old boy was a freak incident because staff safety was prioritise­d, the park said.

The toddler, the child of a staff member, was attacked at about 10pm on Wednesday and was rushed to Shongwe Hospital where he was declared dead.

The section ranger, his lance corporal and regional rangers searched for the animal and shot it.

The park said predators did interact with tourists and staff occasional­ly, which could result in species, such as the leopard, getting habituated to people and losing their fear.

KNP spokespers­on Ike Phaahla said: “Staff safety is a priority. We never expect something like this to happen at our parks. When a wild animal is habituated to humans, it becomes tame and changes its natural behaviour and loses fear for humans.”

SANParks chief executive Fundisile Mketeni said the tragedy was a risk they lived with as they tried to help to conserve species.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the family during this trying time. We wish them strength and, as an organisati­on, will give them all the support they need. It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially in such tragic circumstan­ces. May the toddler’s soul rest in eternal peace.”

When a wild animal is habituated to humans, it loses its fear for humans Ike Phaahla Kruger National Park spokespers­on

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa