Last year, we brought you news of the capture of GM10, Frikkie, a young male leopard. We caught Frikkie in mid-June 2011, at a site close to the Huisrivier Pass between Calitzdorp and Ladismith in the Little Karoo. We were trying to capture the territorial male in the area, but were pleasantly surprised to find Frikkie in our trap instead. Being too young to collar, we took our usual measurements and released Frikkie without collaring him, hoping to keep tabs on him via our camera traps. However, until this week we had not seen any sign of him.
On Monday 7 May we received confirmation that Frikkie is alive and well in the most dramatic fashion possible – we captured him again! While he was once again not our ‘target’ leopard, it was fascinating to see him again almost a year after his initial capture. He has grown considerably over the past 11 months, putting on approximately 7.5kg in that time. While this still makes him considerably lighter than adult males in this area (the lightest of which weighed in at 35kg), another year of similar growth should see Frikkie reach a size at which he will be able to carve out a territory of his own.
It is interesting that we have not been able to get any photographs of Frikkie in the year since he was last captured. This is possibly indicative of a tendency of sub-adult male leopards to avoid obvious paths and tracks where they are more likely to have a (potentially lethal) encounter with the local territorial male. Frikkie still has plenty of growing to do, and is thus not a suitable candidate for collaring. Hopefully we will start to see him more regularly in future once he becomes a dominant, territorial animal and is more comfortable moving along the tracks where we typically set up the cameras.
I would like to thank all our sponsors for their ongoing support which makes our work possible, as well as Dr. Willem Burger for providing expert assistance with the immobilisation of the leopard.