The Cape Leopard Trust - Using research as a tool for conservation & finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict
Thursday, 20 December 2007 00:06

Stellenbosch Waldorf and Bishops visit the Cederberg

Two school groups were exposed to the Cape Leopard Trust’s work over the past couple of months. Firstly, the Stellenbosch Waldorf grade 6 class was brought on a week field trip in the Cederberg. Quinton and school teacher Elizabeth Bond took the group on an overnight hike teaching the boys and girls about leopards and everything else in the veld. That night, full of trepidation, the class slept out in the mountain, each one having to stand watch for 45 minutes on their own.

All the dread from the previous day was at last forgotten when the sun finally peeped over the mountain peak early the next morning. All survived! The group were then taken on an afternoon game drive to Bakkrans Nature Reserve (www.redcederberg. co.za) in Johan van der Westhuizen’s game drive vehicle which he lent us. We ended the night searching for scorpions under ultra violet light which illuminates these wonderful creatures. The boys and girls were thrilled when Quinton managed to locate and handle two large scorpions for them to get a close up view.

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Next was the Bishops Epic. “Epic” is indeed the best way to describe this massive event spanning 3 weeks where over 120 grade10 students come hiking in the Cederberg. The Cape Leopard Trust was on hand to do presentations to the boys, opening their eyes about leopards and other fauna found in the Cederberg. Two specific events were highlights for us: the first when Quinton tracked the male leopard “Trompie” on Uitkyk pass. He was located about 600m off the road and while Quinton watched from a distance, 12 Bishops boys came hiking down the mountain less than 100m from where the leopard lay watching. Who knows what he was thinking while watching this procession, but one thing is for sure, the boys had no idea he was there, and they were in no danger either. This seems all too common a scenario in these mountains, as people so seldom see or even know of a leopard’s presence here but they often get a good look at us, but are thankfully too shy to pose a threat unless provoked.

The other event was an opportunity for four boys and their Science teacher, Graeme, to track M11 on foot with Quinton. All 24 boys in the group wanted to go, but four had the opportunity after drawing straws. They had quite a hike, but the excitement made it all worthwhile. The leopard, having become aware of their presence, decided he was in no mood for a crowd, so lithely crossed over a steep ridge and disappeared before they even got a glimpse.

The Cape Leopard Trust Trapping Techniques

icon no trapShort overview of three trapping methods considered by the Cape Leopard Trust as safe and humane: Cage traps, Foot loop traps or Foot snares, Soft-catch traps, References to relevant scientific literature.

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