A social media storm has erupted after a farmworker was badly mauled by a leopard which was then shot dead during an ill-fated dog hunt for jackal and lynx at the Burchell Private Game Reserve near Alicedale last Thursday.


The 113kg male leopard was shot dead by vermin control officer Dale Venske after it attacked houndsman Zwelake “Mike” Dyan, ripping into the left side of his head, face and shoulder and breaking his left arm, according to reports.

Images of Dyan’s bleeding face and a photograph of Venske holding the body of the dead leopard have appeared in the press and social media, triggering a war of words between users.

Some branded the hunting party “unethical” for allegedly cornering the cat with illegal hunting dogs, while others defended the kill saying it was carried out in self-defence.

But reserve owner Barry Burchell said Venske had been “heroic” to kill the big cat on the daily expedition to hunt vermin.

Burchell said he was unaware the leopard was on his property which is stocked with game like buffalo, kudu, nyala and sable.

“If we knew it was on the farm we would have trapped it and sent it to a photographic reserve like Shamwari. It was a beautiful animal.”


Smuts said the incident occurred as a direct result of illegal dog hunting.

“I have spoken to Mr Burchell. Their defence is that they were confronted by a life-threatening situation so they took the decision to kill the cat and the law states you may kill a leopard once it threatens a life.

“But this is the consequence of hunting with dogs.

“Dog hunting is a totally illegal action and I believe there were 12 dogs.

“It was an illegal action because of them hunting with dogs as well as intent and I believe authorities should take appropriate action because I believe a criminal offence occurred here.”


Department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism (Dedeat), director of compliance and enforcement Div de Villiers declined to comment about the outburst of conflicting social media opinion, saying he aimed to “get to the bottom” of exactly what happened.

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