elegy for a leopard


The details surrounding the death of this leopard are unfortunate. According to Elie Tobi, scientist and curator for the Gabon Biodiversity Center in Gamba, the body of this leopard was recovered in November of 2009.

“A leopard was caught by an illegal bushmeat snare set between Hippo Lake and Sette Cama, in the Gamba area of Gabon. The animal struggled fiercely, finally managing to break the spring-pole stick holding him prisoner of the mechanism. Unfortunately, his struggle for freedom became corrupted by a wound to his right front leg. This leopard, now injured, drew behind him a cable attached to the broken piece of wood. Under these conditions, it became impossible to hunt. Weakened by hunger, the animal left the cover of forest, dying, likely of starvation, on Sette Cama Road.

In light of his dire circumstance, it is possible the leopard presented himself along the roadway to escape from other dangers in the forest. Or, it is possible, he offered himself to science, to create a lesson in conservation.”

Wire snares are illegal in Gabon. Snares do not discriminate between protected and unprotected species. Like this leopard, large and powerful animals can tear a snare free of its anchor, dragging the broken cable through the forest while still constricting a limb that will likely become infected and cause crippling injury or death.

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