When the leopard came at night …
2007: News coverage in Haaretz, Sydney Morning Herald, BBC, Reuters, Spiegel
2007: Movie made shortly after his capture (in German)
It was three a clock in the morning, when our family cat Zehava, lying next to me in bed, screeched. Then I felt something jumping on my bed. It was a leopard, trying to devour our cat. The leopard took Zehava and shaked her vigorously to break her neck. Without thinking I jumped on him and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck like you do to a kitten, only much harder which neutralized him. I dragged him with all my might onto the bed and held him down with my leg. He was shocked and released the cat.
My wife immediatetly called the ranger of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, while my fourteen-year-old-daughter sat on the bed beside me. My oldest son brought a camera to document the drama (the little one was sleeping). When the rangers arrived 20 minutes later, it took another 20 minutes to move the leopard into a trash bin in which we hastilly drilled holes so that he could continue breathing.
Shut tightly with a rope around the trash bin, the rare predator was brought to the Hebrew University Veterinary Teaching Hospital to Beit Dagan. The leopard weighed just about twenty kilograms, too low for a healthy male. That was probably the reason he frequently visited Midreshet Ben Gurion to hunt cats and other small animals. He never went into a house before, and whenever people saw the shy wildcat they succeded in chasing it away.
Because of the poor physical health, the leopard could not hunt and needed to be kept in an enclosed area. We thus brought him to the Hai Bar Wildlife Reserve at Yotvata in the Arava Valley. Sadely, the leopard died two years after this incident due to his poor health condition which could not be improved in spite of intensive care.
This incident rised my interest in improving leopard wildlife in the Negev desert. Please get in touch if you share this interest.