Father of boy, two, mauled to death by a leopard in South Africa reveals how he found his son in the beast’s jaws as he was being dragged away from their garden to be eaten
- Courtney Ntimane was with his family in Kruger National Park in South Africa
- The two-year-old was eating with his family when the animal dragged him away
- Leopard is believed to have been attracted by smells of the family barbecue
- Dad Isaiah, 35, saw his son in the beast’s jaws as he was being mauled to death
The heartbroken father of a two-year-old boy killed by a leopard has told how he heard his son’s screams in their garden and ran out to see him in the jaws of the predator.
Little Courtney Ntimane had been stalked by the leopard which is believed to have been attracted by the smells of fresh meat cooking on an outdoor family barbecue.
The terrified youngster had been bitten repeatedly on the neck and body and although his parents rushed the blood-soaked boy to hospital nothing could be done to save his life.
The family had been eating in the fenced off compound on Wednesday at around 8pm where they lived at the Kruger National Park in South Africa when the deadly leopard approached.
Dad Isaiah, 35, who lives in the Malelane gate technical services living quarters said the leopard climbed over a tree next to the fence and jumped into the yard in the darkness.
The son’s last horrific moments of life were described his distraught father to his local paper just hours after little Courtney was declared dad.
Two-year-old Courtney Ntimane died after being stalked and attacked by a leopard inside the Malelane gate of Kruger National Park in South Africa
The water operator told The Star that his wife and son do not normally live with him while he is working and had come to visit him at work from Bushbuckridge for a barbecue.
He told them: ‘I was walking to my cottage and Courtney followed me. I didn’t notice that he was behind me because I had left him there playing with his mother’s phone.
‘Just when I got to my cottage and closing the door behind me, I heard screams coming from outside and I rushed back out to see what the commotion was all about.’
He broke down in tears as he described seeing his toddler hanging from the leopards jaws and said the big cat was trying to drag Courtney over the fence to eat him in the dark.
Isaiah said the leopard dropped his badly bleeding son when he was challenged and leapt over the fence and disappeared into the night on the 2 million hectare nature reserve.
He told The Star: ‘We rushed him to Shongwe Hospital but when we arrived he was already dead. They put him on a bed and looking into his eyes and saw no signo of life’.
The leopard that attacked Courtney Ntimane was shot and killed by a game ranger. It is thought it was attracted to the smell of a barbecue. Pictured is a camouflaged leopard in a tree in Kruger National Park (file image)
Mr Ntimane said Courntey’s body was taken to the pathology department for n autopsy to be performed and then the boys remains were released to the family for burial.
KNP spokesman Ike Phaahla said that as a result of the leopard killing a human his rangers had no choice but to track it down and shoot it dead as it could kill again.
The family are awaiting for the result of the pathology report into how the leopard killed their son and said that they have plans to hold a funeral for him very soon.
A South African police spokesman said an inquest docket had been opened.
Isaiah told The Star: ‘It is hard for me and my wife and I cannot even leave my cottage to go to work because when I walk out I get flashbacks of what happened. The memory of it is all too painful.’
The KNP have arranged counselling for the family and will help with the funeral.
Spokesman Ike Phaahla said: ‘On hearing of the incident two of our rangers went out to search for the animal and it was shot dead to remove the danger of another falling victim.
‘There is interaction between animals and visitors to the KNP and this may result in species like a leopard getting habituated to people and losing their fear of them.
‘The change in natural behaviour can then lead to unfortunate incidents such as this’ he said
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of South African National Parks (pictured), said his staff face a daily risk of death to help conserve the many species of animals in the park
The Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks Mr Fundisile Mketeni said: ‘Our prayers are with the family and we wish them strength and they have all our support.
‘It is an unfortunate risk that our staff experience when they live and work in environments like the KNP with animals but these events are very rare but always tragic when they occur.
‘This is the risk that we live with on a daily basis as we help to conserve our many animal species for the benefit of all. May the young toddler’s soul rest in eternal peace’ he said.
The Kruger National Park in north-east South Africa is in 2 million hectares and is home to many species including The Big Five of elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.
There are some 10,000 leopards roaming wild in the Kruger National Park along with many other deadly predators.
A male leopard can weigh up to 90 kilo’s and run at nearly 40mph and uses its powerful jaws and claws to kill and can take down an animal sometimes three times its own size.