Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Not a leopard - but still 2.2 kg of fury!

25 June 2013

Categories: Homepage News, Rescue News, Ensessakotteh News

Our feisty new baby!

Stephen Brend, our Born Free Ethiopia Project Manager, has his hands full with a feisty new arrival

When I collected him, I was mightily relieved that Sekota was not the leopard we had been told to expect but a young caracal, just three months old.  However, an hour later, as I disinfected the wound on my hand, I concluded ruefully that the difference between the two species should not be exaggerated!

That said, I am still glad he is a caracal.  Why?  Leopards are expert climbers, they are big and strong, they are nocturnal, their rehabilitation is notoriously problematic and they are potentially very dangerous.  Caracals, by comparison, are smaller, eat smaller and more commonly occurring prey, are naturally wild; their rehabilitation is therefore easier and, despite my bloody hand, are not as dangerous.  So, in the long term, Sekota’s future is brighter as a caracal than it would be if he was a leopard.

And a bright future goes a long way to repaying the misfortune that has already befallen him.

Sekota was caught by a local man in Amhara Region, in the north of Ethiopia.  Representatives from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry under which the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (our federal Governmental partners) lies, based in the town of Sekota, heard about the cat and went off to investigate.  They did so, in part, because EWCA has recently been running training and awareness-raising courses about wildlife crime within the Government – it is great to know the message has got home.

At the village, they found the man and little Sekota.  Having explained the law they asked the man to surrender the cat.  He refused, saying he was going to sell him for 35,000 Birr (approximately £1,300 or $2,000).  The Ministry people then left, and went to the local police to explain the situation.  A day later, the caracal was in the Ministry car heading for Addis (a three day/two night journey) and the man was in jail – another positive outcome.

The caracal arrived on Monday, still with the same filthy piece of rope around his neck that he had been kept tied up with in the village.  It was as I cut away the rope that Sekota took advantage of the proximity of my flesh to his mouth.  No matter: the cuts will heal; it is great that he is wild and that he will eventually be able to go free again.  As importantly, it is fantastic that the law enforcement system, the support of which is the reason why Born Free is in Ethiopia, is working so well.  EWCA’s drive to coordinate efforts amongst the various branches of the Government has been rewarded; the Police were willing to act; and the culprit was caught and punished.  Set against that, it really isn’t a problem that the actual species was not correctly identified – the crucial point is that the authorities acted against wildlife crime. 

All in all, the story is a good news one (and I still say it is good news that Sekota isn’t a leopard!).

You can help

Stephen and the little cub need some help!  Please help provide Sekota’s food and care at our rescue centre in Ethiopia, until he is ready to be returned to the wild.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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