Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve, South Africa: An extremely rare strawberry leopard was caught on cam by a motion-triggered camera while it was feasting on a dead giraffe near the black leopard mountain lodge.
45-year-old Alan Watson and 41-year-old Lynsey, his wife, saw a pink-tinged animal roaming around, but they never got it on cam.
The couple got the leopard feasting on a dead giraffe near the Black Leopard Mountain Lounge.
Alan and Lynsey got the pictures of the extremely rare leopard after motion camera caught the animal feasting on a dead giraffe that was killed in an intense thunderstorm earlier this year.
At first, Alan thought the motion camera will only get hundreds of pictures of moving grass.
But when a researcher reviews the pictures, they saw a strawberry leopard.
Alan said, “As far as I know, this is the rarest color of leopard in the world. We hope she will bring new people to the lodge. A lot of people who come to spot wildlife in the area go away disappointed not to have seen a leopard.”
Alan added, “They are so well camouflaged and incredibly elusive. Even these ones, if they were going through the long grass you wouldn’t see them. If she doesn’t want to be seen, you aren’t going to see her. It’s so nice to discover something new in nature.”
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He continued, “So much of the time you hear about species being extinct, and here we are with something new. It’s incredible.”
The Black Leopard Mountain Lounge is located in a perfect area that is best for wildlife as it is surrounded by mountainous terrains. This keeps off animal farmers and poachers.
The couple also shared the pictures of the leopard on their Facebook page. they said: “Today we’re sharing possibly our most exciting update yet…a golden, leopard otherwise known as a strawberry or erythristic leopard. This is one of the rarest colour variations in the world and over the last few months we have caught this female leopard on a few of our camera traps and this is the first post of many we are due to release.
They added, “On this occasion, a giraffe was found dead after a major electric storm and attracted more than just the normal bushveld scavengers. We were shocked when we went through the camera trap footage to find this unique feline feasting on the carcass during the day.”
Alan said he thought they are going to get grass moving, but was shocked and excited when the researcher saw the photos and said that there was a golden leopard feasting on a dead giraffe.
He added, “In one, she has turned around and snarled at the camera. You can see her nose wrinkled up. It’s quite amazing and it’s just so clear.”
Alan said a strawberry leopard was also present in Lydenburg a couple of years ago, but it passed away after it was killed.
The good news is that there is another strawberry leopard living in his reserve, they are yet to capture pictures of it.
Alan said, “Our two could be the only two living ones in the wild today. Obviously I’m hoping there are more.”