With the southern survey of the CLT Boland project rapidly drawing to a close, we are thrilled to report that the number of leopards for the Jonkershoek, Hottentots-Holland, Helderberg Nature Reserves and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve currently stands on 16 adult individuals! Once the survey is finalised towards the end of April, we will give a more detailed breakdown of our southern survey results. Below are two of our beautiful southern spotted cats!
Top left: BM14, adult male in Jonkershoek NR. Top right: BF11, adult female at the back of the Bergriver dam.
Our original plan was to survey the Groot Winterhoek region next. However, the massive veldfires which recently swept through the Limietberg Nature Reserve has inadvertently presented us with a unique opportunity to investigate the effect of fire on the movements of leopards and their prey. Almost half of the camera stations deployed during the previous survey are now in burnt areas. By comparing the camera trap data obtained during the 2010 survey with the post-fire camera trap data, we aim to determine how Fynbos fires influence the large-scale movement patterns of leopards, as well as the mammal assemblages at these camera stations. We shall still deploy some cameras in the Groot Winterhoek region, as preparation for the main northern survey which will take place at a later stage.
Burnt veld in the Stettyns Mountains
Colour soon returns to the scorched landscape.
The Kogelberg Nature Reserve also bore the brunt of a devastating fire that started near Rooisand on the R44. A huge chunk of the reserve burnt – including several of our current camera locations. We are now very eager to see the results of these cameras after the fire.
A camera location in the Kogelberg before and after the fire
On that note, we would like to extend a very special thank you to dedicated CapeNature staff and private landowners who, in the midst of very difficult conditions, took the trouble to save our cameras from areas about to burn. Hats off to you – thank you so much! We did not lose a single camera in the fires – although two came very very close, as the next series of pictures show (the fire came through at night, moving very fast, and it was impossible to fetch the cameras). In it one can see the blaze approaching, and eventually burning right around the camera. These pictures were taken by the camera on the opposite side; both cameras melted due to the heat of the flames, but when we got to them 6 days later, both were still taking pictures!!
The ones that got away... What probably saved these cameras are the fact that they were running on 6V lead cell external batteries – if the normal D-cell batteries were to have been inside the cameras, they would have almost certainly caused more damage.
Until next time then,
Warm greetings from the Boland!
Jeannie & Anita