Photo Credit: The Cape Leopard Trust

The Cape Leopard Trust has concluded another survey, this time in the Cederberg, to assess the leopard population in the area.


Cederberg, South Africa (09 June 2024) — The Cape Leopard Trust has successfully completed another survey, this one consisting of camera stations distributed in key areas and rangers taking to the mountains to record tracks and faeces, all in the hopes of calculating the local Cape Leopard populations. This survey followed one done in the Klein Karoo in 2022.

The survey, which spanned an area of over 1600 km2 of rugged Cederberg landscape, ran from June to December 2023. 67 paired camera stations were placed along jeep tracks and hiking trails in this region of mostly pristine montane Fynbos habitat, consisting of provincial and private nature reserves, commercial and guest farms, and communal lands.

A total of 240,000 photos were captured with 29,000 being of humans, most of which included the researchers servicing cameras and hikers and trail runners passing by the unseen cameras.

“Initial results from the survey indicate good species diversity with at least 29 mammal species recorded – mostly native wild species like genet, mongoose, honey badger, aardvark and aardwolf. The species encountered most often were baboon, rock hyrax (dassie), klipspringer and grey rhebuck. As usual, the cameras also recorded several bird species, including spotted eagle-owl, rock kestrel, hamerkop and South African shelduck.”

“After 22 weeks of data collection, the survey recorded leopards at 60 of the 67 camera locations – a success rate of 90%. Using the pattern recognition software of African Carnivore Wildbook as well as observer confirmation by eye, the just over 860 identifiable leopard images were inspected to individually ID leopards. 37 different adult cats have been identified so far. These identikits were also compared to photos from our previous Cederberg survey conducted in 2017-2018, and encouragingly, 9 of the leopards recorded then were photographed again in 2023!”

This survey was a great success however, it did face a few challenges. Throughout the duration of the survey, the area experienced heatwaves, snow, flooding and fires.

The Cape Leopard Trust shared thanks to CapeNature for the logistical support and assistance with the 26 camera stations falling within the Algeria, Matjiesrivier and Kliphuis Nature Reserves. They also thanked all the private landowners where the other 41 cameras were located.

These sightings, along with other data collected by the cameras, will aid in figuring out what the Cape Leopard population is.

Take a look at some of the images captured below. You can see a few more via the Cape Leopard Trust website here.

Sources: Book Supplied by Pan Macmillan for Review
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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