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PH Nic Kruger's Statement to Namibian Police

I, Joachim Nicolaas Kruger, a 27-year-old Namibian citizen herewith declare under oath as follows: I am a shareholder and Licensed Professional Hunter with Omujeve Hunting Safaris and a resident on the farm Ongombo West Section II # 56 Windhoek District. I was guiding a legal leopard hunt on the farm Fahlwater in the Karibib on the 24th of April 2009. We found a big leopard track at 05:15 in the morning and decided that it was a big leopard and that we could start the hunt as soon as it was light enough. At first light we released the hounds to start tracking the leopard. After some time Zukile called me on the radio and said he was hearing the leopard. We started to approach Zukile. The leopard was in thick brush and wasn't afraid of the dogs. He was fighting with the dogs and injured a couple of them, which is very unusual with this experienced pack of hounds. As time passed it was clear that the dogs were afraid of this leopard, and the leopard wasn't planning on getting in a tree soon.

I decided that it was too dangerous to attempt to approach the leopard. We called the hounds back, and I sent Claasen to fetch the vehicle. We gave the hounds water hoping that the dogs would be fresh again and would have an advantage over the leopard, and that they would then push the leopard into a tree and give us a nice, safe, clean shot. Zukile, Punki and myself thought the cat had moved off, and we decided to move to the spot where the cat was laying down last and get the hounds back on the track. Zukile and Punki were walking a short distance in front of me with Brittany right behind me and Simon Elton a couple of steps back. Suddenly one of the hounds made a sound and I saw the leopard charging towards Zukile. Zukile fell to the ground, and as the leopard approached Punki I saw a gap and shot the leopard, but the shot was not fatal. The leopard jumped on Punki, and Punki fell to the ground. Then the leopard moved towards Claasen but turned back toward Punki and started biting him. Then I heard a shot from Brittany's rifle.

Brittany didn't know at the time that Punki was under the leopard because she was walking behind me when it happened, and when she stepped out behind me, Punki was already down in the tall grass. That is why she couldn't see him, and of course she is eleven inches shorter than I am, so she could see much less than I could in the long grass. She shot at the leopard because it stopped, which for her was the right thing to do at that stage. Any hunter in the same situation would have done the same. When she shot the leopard it was busy biting Punki and there was a lot of movement as the leopard was pulling Punki around. Because of her height Brittany was unable to see this.

The whole thing happened very quickly, in less than three seconds, much too quickly for me to give any instructions or clarify the situation. I am certain her bullet hit Punki because the leopard pulled Punki up right into the line of her shot, suggested by deep bite marks on his belt. After Brittany's shot the leopard dropped Punki and started to run away, and then I shot the leopard again and ran past Punki. I knew that he was bitten by the leopard, but at this time I did not know he had been hit by a bullet. The leopard was still running away from us, and I just wanted to make sure that the leopard was dead because I didn't want to track a wounded leopard after what has already happened. The leopard was dead when I reached it, and Zukile called me and said that I must come quickly and that Punki was shot. Until that moment I had no idea that Punki was shot, and I told my tracker Claasen to run and bring the truck. Meanwhile we took our shirts and held pressure on the wound. While we waited for the truck I called EMED rescue and Doctor Jordaan and made some arrangements as to what to do and where to meet the ambulance. The truck came about two minutes later, and we loaded Punki in the truck and raced to the main road, which was about 10km away. As we got on the main road, the ambulance was on its way from Okahandja, and we drove straight to Okahandja Hospital where they were quick to help and to get Punki stabilized. Then EMED rescue came and they then moved him to Windhoek where the doctors were waiting for him. - Joachim Nicolaas Kruger.

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