By Helen Duigan
Imagine driving out in a hurry early in the morning and spotting a very large, brown, hairy creature skulking among the trees near your home. A resident of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy decided there could only be one animal sporting a mane like that – a lion.
The Police were notified, the Nooitgedacht Lion Park was contacted and all neighbours given a warning that a predator might be loose in the area. Horse owners were advised not to let their horses out into the veld. The managers of the lion parks in Nooitgedacht and in Kalkheuvel were asked to check on their lions - but all seemed to be present with no intention of exploring the wild blue yonder.
A search in the thickly wooded area along the Jukskei River was launched and finally the trackers found a spoor – that of a brown hyena! Bonnie Debbo, who lives in the area where the spoor was found, says her dogs were barking non-stop the night before and she heard very strange calls that she could not identify.
Brown hyena spoor has often been found in Hennops River near the Schurveberg but the animals have seldom ventured so far south. A leopard was spotted in Hennops on April 1 this year but it was regarded as an April Fool story, until the Leopard Conservation Project verified that it was indeed a leopard.