Oh koek, there never was a leopard on my stoep!
Limpopo hospital staff are warned about a leopard in the hospital grounds that officials say is actually just a cat
The majestic growl has dissolved into an unconvincing meow, and patients at Louis Trichardt Memorial Hospital in Limpopo can bring their blood pressure down to manageable levels again.
All this because a warning notice about a leopard spotted within the hospital premises, turned out to be none other than a cat – a very large one by the sounds of it.
Or perhaps this could be the one tale of a leopard that actually changed its spots?
According to Limpopo health department spokesperson Thabiso Teffo the notice was posted on November 26 as a precaution, but the department has since confirmed the animal was a domestic cat and not one of the big five.
A letter addressed to hospital staff by the department said the leopard was spotted within the premises and that anyone who sees it should call nature conservationists immediately.
The number listed is for a Development, Environment and Tourism Limpopo (Ledet) conservationist Lorraine Nemutanzhela from Wildlife Trade and Regulation.
Allan McMurtrie, who works closely with Nemutanzhela, was surprised at the notice .
“We are unaware of this particular incident and my partner and I would know about it if it was true. It would really be unusual [for a leopard to be found at the hospital]. What usually happens is people see a domestic cat or people spot a wild cat species and they think it’s a leopard. I think that’s probably what happened here.”
Limpopo health department spokesperson Thabiso Teffo confirmed the notice had come from the department but said it was a reissue from an earlier notice in October.
“We first heard the allegation in October and we sent specialists from Ledet to investigate. But we can confirm that there is absolutely no leopard. People saw a cat.
“Then we heard another allegation this month about a leopard. So we can confirm there is no leopard now and there has never been a leopard, but we decided to put up this notification just in case.
“The hospital is inside a town so it is unlikely, but we still need to make sure that we warn people, just in case.”
McMurtrie said that if a leopard were spotted in the area, he and his colleague would investigate.
“When we are notified about a sighting we go to the vicinity and try to sight the animal. We try and see the reason for the animal going into the area. Is it for food or something else? If there is a danger we will remove the animal.
“We do have a natural leopard population [in the area]. We do have the odd sightings from time to time but this would be very unusual for a leopard to be seen within the hospital premises. We had a leopard and cubs near the vicinity a few months ago but she moved on as soon as the cubs were able.”