(Photo : Phillip Mackenzie)
LEOPARDS IN THE KZN MIDLANDS
There are people who pay independent fortunes to find leopards and their cubs in the wild reserves of Africa. At Summerhill, we’ve long preserved the fauna and flora around us in conjunction with our neighbours, and we are the proud possessors today of a rich legacy and a deep diversity in the animals and plant types that characterize our environment.
Among the predator creatures that frequent our territory are Caracal (Rooikat), several packs of Jackal, the occasional Cape Fox, and Serval. We’ve been known in the district to have the odd rare visit from a Leopard, and our horse breeding colleagues up the road at Camargue Stud once suffered a loss of several yearlings as a result of their taking flight when a male of the species passed through their paddock several years back.
We don’t recall any reports of sightings on Summerhill though, so imagine our surprise on Monday evening when our hotel manager, Paula Mackenzie, spotted a female leopard and her three cubs on the roadside at the junction dip between our two properties, the Springs and Summerhill. What a sight, and what a pleasure to know that she should feel comfortable raising a family in our neighbourhood. Leopards are strongly territorial animals, and operate within a well defined range. They have been known to pitch up at the strangest places, but seldom venture beyond the kloofs and forests that provide cover for them during the day. There’s little that will prey on their cubs at Summerhill, and it says something for our conservation practices here that this lady should feel free to roam as she has, to our eastern most boundary.
Something for visitors to look forward to at Hartford House, as she’s likely to be in the vicinity for some time, while the youngsters grow up.