By Jaafar Jaafar
Rangers in Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State were shocked by unexpected sight of leopard and caracal captured by their trap cameras.
The cameras, strategically located in 24 locations of the 2,244sqkm Yankari Game Reserve, were installed by their collaborating partners, the Wildlife Conservation Society, WCS, to checkmate poaching.
Leopard, weighing between 30 and 80kg, is a nocturnal predator that hunts antelope, deer, impala, among others, while caracal is a reclusive medium size cat that preys on rodents, hare, birds and other small animals.
These big cats were hitherto presumed extinct in the wildlife preserve, located in Nigeria’s North East region.
National Geographic says human expansion has cost leopards an estimated 66% of their range in Africa, while panther.org says leopard has vanished from at least 49 percent of its historic range in Africa and 84 percent of its historic range in Eurasia.
Habu Mamman, the sole administrator of Yankari Game Reserve, told DAILY NIGERIAN that leopard was last seen in the preserve in 1986.
“It was an exciting discovery. Leopard was last seen in Yankari in 1986, and since then it was never sighted,” he said.
He said the rangers were excited to see the leopards while reviewing the shots captured by their trap cameras on Monday.
Mr Mamman said they have now increased security measures around the area to protect both the leopards and humans.
He also said they were currently constructing an airstrip, majorly for patrol planes.