Boy rescued from the jaws of a leopard

HOEDSPRUIT – Kellan Denny has to be the luckiest little boy around! To be taken down by a big male leopard, dragged 30 meters into the bush and live to tell the story is just incredible. Kellen who is only 6 years old, was attacked by a Leopard in broad daylight, around midday on Tuesday, April 26 at Ntsiri Nature Reserve in the Umbabat some 50km outside of Hoedspruit. He and his older brother Kai who is 8, had been playing on a low brick wall that surrounds the boma at their family bush retreat at Ntsiri. According to his Dad Justin Denny: Kellan was having fun like any boy might, running along the low wall, when suddenly he saw the blur of a leopard lunging out of the bush and grabbing Kellan. Instinctively Justin took off after the leopard, screaming, shouting and running after the animal, which had Kellan firmly by his shoulder. The predator dragged Kellan into and through a Mopani thicket, finally dropping him 30 meters away from the boma before slinking off into the bush. Kellan had four distinct puncture wounds caused by the leopard’s canine teeth, three over his scapula area and one just beneath his armpit. There was also extensive scratching and bruising on his lower limbs and some on his upper limbs. These were likely caused by the bushes through which the animal dragged him. The priority was to clean the wounds and then cover them with gauze swabs and plaster strips. Once the Doctor on the scene felt his condition was stable the next move was to get him to a medical practitioner in Hoedspruit to further attend to his injuries and to stitch up the puncture wounds, administer anti-tetanus and if possible take x-rays of his lungs as for obvious reasons this was not available at Ntsiri. Dr Blignaut in Hoedspruit, stitched up the four bite wounds, cleaned the other injuries and gave Kellan a Tetanus injection and a script for antibiotics and painkiller medication. The following morning Justin was requested to do a de-brief with the Umbabat Warden. During their brief discussion the warden asked if Kellan had been given the Rabies shots and Justin said ‘No’. The warden said it was an absolute necessity and strongly recommended that this be done ASAP as there had been a few cases of Rabies in the area. Rabies is 100% fatal, and if the risk of exposure is high, having the treatment should be a non-negotiable. Rather be safe than sorry! ‘We ended up having to go to the closest state hospital namely: Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek. I called through and they confirmed that they had the necessary Rabies Immunoglobulin (RIG) and Vaccine. This was quite traumatic for the little chap as the RIG was administered in and around the bite wounds,’ Justin explained. Kellan has made a remarkable recovery, and returned to school in the same week. The little toughie is doing remarkably well, says his proud Dad. But the family as a whole are still shaken by the incident and are not quite ready to face the bush yet. Justin also told K2C that while he would be unable to identify the exact leopard that attacked Kellan, there is a large male that has been recorded hanging around their bush home, and until he moves off or gets re-located, he will not be very comfortable to take his boys back there. The family are avid wildlife enthusiast, but an incident like this takes time to process and recover from, says Justin.

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