According to Dewald Wahlstrand, general manager of the SPCA in Waltloo, the leopard escaped from a nearby game reserve through a hole in the fence that was presumably cut by poachers.
“Unfortunately, the leopard found the hole and managed to get out,” Wahlstrand said on Friday.
In video footage of the leopard distributed on social media, the leopard can be seen walking along a residential fence before disappearing behind a stack of bricks.
Another video shows the leopard sitting behind a carpet draped over a fence before strolling off, piquing the interest of a dog who follows it as a police officer comes into the picture, seemingly uncertain of what to do.
Wahlstrand warned community members to keep calm should they come across wild animals, especially predators such as leopards.
“They should immediately report a sighting to the SPCA and the police. But most importantly, they should leave the animal alone, because as soon as they approach the animal, it will feel threatened and it might attack.”
According to Wahlstrand, the owner of the property where the leopard was spotted called the police. The leopard was found hiding under a car in one of the yards.
“The SPCA then arranged for a veterinarian to dart the leopard. It will first be examined for any injuries and then reintroduced to the game reserve.”
Wahlstrand said this was an isolated incident and was “definitely not” a regular occurrence.
“It not something that happens often. When it does, it’s usually when poachers cut holes in game reserve fences. These animals usually escape because of the behaviour of people.”