Man Filmed Punching Corpse of Leopard That Was Killed for Attacking Ranger

Footage of a man beating the dead body of a leopard that attacked a Kruger National Park ranger has emerged online, leading officials to condemn the actions of the staff amid widespread criticism of national parks in South Africa.

The leopard was euthanized after attacking a park employee on July 17. The same leopard is believed to have been responsible for another attack, although park officials could not confirm this.

Shortly after the animal had been put down, a video was recorded of somebody aggressively slapping and punching the leopard's corpse for over a minute, mostly to the face and head, while park employees looked on.

Kruger National Park spans nearly 2 million hectares, and contains a vast range of wildlife, with over 140 species of mammals alone. There are thought to be around 1,000 leopards in the park, with the cats being included in the "big five" species that the park is famed for: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos.

Leopards do occasionally attack humans, although the majority of cases have occurred in Nepal: the rate of leopard predation on humans in Nepal is 16 times higher than anywhere else. In Kruger National Park, there were only five deaths caused by leopards between the years of 1992 and 2003.

Stock image of a leopard. A leopard in Kruger National Park that attacked a ranger was euthanized, with a video later showing that a man was beating its corpse. iStock / Getty Images Plus

In a statement published to its Facebook page, South African National Parks (SANParks), custodian of the Kruger National Park addressed the attack on the dead leopard.

"Such actions are contrary to the ethos of the organization whose primary goal is to conserve biodiversity and act as the custodian of our wildlife," the statement said.

"SANParks has taken steps to positively identify all persons in the video and the organization can confirm that four of the nine implicated persons are SANParks employees and three are Rangers... The ninth person who was filmed striking the euthanised leopard was a visitor to the Park and is not an SANParks employee. SANParks is aware of his identity and is taking legal advice on sanctions to be imposed on him."

The statement also clarifies that while these actions are brutal, a post-mortem of the leopard found that the official cause of death was from the bullet wounds made in the euthanization, not any of the actions of the man who beat the animal.

Commenters under the post expressed their disappointment with SANPark's actions, both for allowing the animal to be beaten, and for euthanizing it in the first place.

"There is no hope for the future of the animals in the park if this is the quality of the rangers that are supposed to protect them," said one commenter named Lize Stassen. "I don't even know if I want to visit Kruger again."

"You shouldn't be allowed to kill leopards, rather keep the safe distance and protect them. Since when is it a wild animal's fault for being wild? Humans should know better," said another, Sonja Gary Awasis.

The leopard had attacked an employee on July 17 as he was on his way to work. The employee managed to fight the animal off before yelling for help.

SANParks' head ranger, Cathy Dreyer, told News24: "The injured worker was rushed to the doctor for treatment. He suffered deep lacerations and trauma, but the injuries are understood not to be life-threatening."

This leopard was assumed to be responsible for a second, earlier attack, and it was decided by the park that it should be found and put down.

"SANParks once again states that the actions of these individuals run counter to conservation management and the ethos of the organization," continued the statement on Facebook. "During the course of next week, a campaign will be embarked upon amongst all employees within the Kruger National Park to reinforce these values and ethics."

Newsweek has contacted SANParks for comment.