New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Leopards in ?little Etosha?

Seventeen years of nature conservation have turned former Fish River Canyon farms into a wildlife paradise.

The wardens of Gondwana Canyon Park were ecstatic when they looked through the pictures which an automatic camera had taken at one of the waterholes - and found one photo showing a female leopard with two large cubs.

"Leopards actually don't need to drink," park warden Sue Cooper explained.

"They can get all their water from their prey."

Park warden Trygve Cooper added: "Where waterholes are available leopards will use them opportunistically, however.

"Temperatures are very hot around here at present, so I guess the leopards were looking for a chance to drink, just like all the other animals in the park."

Many animals, among them mountain zebra, currently frequent the waterholes in Gondwana Canyon Park in particular.

Every now and then the solar-powered pumps at the four waterholes on the plains can barely keep up with the demand.

A few months ago a fifth waterhole was re-activated.

Within just ten minutes the Canyon Park rangers recently counted 98 blue wildebeest, 45 red hartebeest, some 30 oryx, 60 springbok and 30 ostriches at one of the waterholes.

After years of reintroducing game species which occurred in this area in previous centuries, Gondwana Canyon Park - which now covers 1 260 km square kilometres - is seen as the 'Little Etosha of the South'.

Animals can be spotted at a waterhole next to the main road or on the self-drive routes through the private nature reserve.

Conflicts with neighbouring farmers are minimised by routine patrols to check the fences and by frequent meetings.

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