Cape Town - A South African woman has suffered serious injuries following an attack by a leopard at Matopi 1 Camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The incident took place on Thursday, 4 January, in which the unidentified woman, who was visiting the camp for an overnight stay with her husband and two other friends, was attacked by the leopard.
Her husband, only known as Mr Fleming, posted details of the incident on 4x4community.co.za forum, saying that the woman is in hospital with a crushed heel that requires screws and severe wounds in need of plastic surgery.
Fleming says he first spotted the leopard about 50m from camp, before calling the others to come and have a look, when the leopard started moving towards them.
"We backed away to the other side of the camp and watched the leopard move around.
"He moved around the camp lying down next to each vehicle, sniffing our chairs, completely relaxed and paying us no mind," he says.
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At about 23:00, Fleming says he tried to start his vehicle to try to encourage the leopard to move away, which it did, but only a short distance.
The group retired to their tents, confident that the leopard would not bother them inside their tents.
Unfortunately, Fleming says they were wrong as he woke up to find his wife screaming in terror, with the leopard ripping into her leg and trying to drag her out of the tent.
Fleming says he struck out at the leopard, trying to stab his fingers in the leopard’s eyes. The leopard then let go and ran off.
A short while later, while Fleming was assessing the horrific damage to his wife’s leg, the leopard came back and started stalking them from about 10m away.
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He says he grabbed a spade and rushed at the leopard, chasing him away, while his wife managed to get into their vehicle which was 5m from their tent.
Fleming recalls throwing their belongings into their vehicles in the pitch dark, and driving to Nossob Campsite on the South African side of the park.
He says they arrived at Nossob to find it locked and drove another 165km to Twee Rivieren campsite, where they were finally met by an ambulance.
"A two-and-a-half hour drive to Upington followed, where thankfully, there was an orthopaedic surgeon on duty at the time," he says.
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South African National Parks' (SANParks) spokesperson, Nadia Lemmetuis told Traveller24 that the park's Tourism Manager, Christa von Elling, spoke to Fleming and has been in contact with the family since the incident took place.
"He [Fleming] said that his wife had a string of operations. He promised to send an email stipulating his wife’s progress and the way forward," says Lemmetuis.
Regarding the incident, Lemmetuis says "On SANParks side, we have fencing around all our camps and rest camps – only the picnic sites are unfenced.
"On the Botswana side, most of the camp sites are open. The tourists are fully aware of the danger when they camp there and should be very vigilant."
She says, regardless of the incident, "people love the park and tourists would love to have close encounters with wild animals, although not that close."
"I’m sure people will flock to Motopi and Botswana side of the park," she says.
Added to that, Lemmetuis says "SANParks would advise tourists to rather use roof tents and tents of good quality."
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