On Tuesday 15 May, Jeannie Hayward from the Cape Leopard Trust’s Boland leopard project and Marine Drouilly from the Cederberg caracal project arrived at the luxurious Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat in the northern Cederberg. The purpose of this trip was not for a spot of R&R, but rather to offer a leopard and caracal tracking experience for the guests and rangers.
The trip started with a lovely sunset game drive through the reserve on the evening of the 15th, followed by a detailed presentation on the Cape Leopard Trusts research, conservation and education projects. Information was also shared on the leopards of Bushmans Kloof with a group of interested guests and staff.
Early the following morning the expedition headed out with a group of guests to visit one of the leopard camera traps deployed on the reserve. Unfortunately none of the spotted cats had been caught on that specific camera lately, but judging by the leopard spoor seen close to the camera only two weeks prior, it will only be a matter of time before the cat shows up on the camera’s memory card. For the remainder of the game drive Marine attempted to pick up a radio signal for Easter, a female caracal that had recently been collared in Bushmans Kloof. Unfortunately, the radio receiver remained silent, indicating that Easter was either too far away for her signal to be received, or was perhaps spending the morning hiding in a crevice where her signal was being obstructed by rocks. For more information on the caracal collaring at Bushmans Kloof, click here.
We also visited another camera trap that was put up next to a springbuck kill – the buck had been dragged into a bush some days before. According to the guide who found the kill there were some caracal tracks visible around the site, and he had put up a camera trap in the hopes of getting a picture when the predator came back to feed. Unfortunately the cat eluded us and we only got a photo of a littleCapefox.
Late that afternoon we took a game drive to another part of the reserve, once again attempting to track Easter. On the drive, guests were treated to wonderful sightings of eland, bontebok,Capemountain zebra, red hartebeest, gemsbok and even a group of bat-eared foxes. We also came across leopard tracks along the road. The tracks were already a few days old, but judging by the size it most likely belonged to a male leopard – possibly Kooitjie, the adult male most often photographed in Bushmans Kloof. Sadly, Marine did not manage to locate Easter after all, but the fantastic view of the Biedouw Valley as seen from the viewpoint at “Top of the World” made up for the disappointment.
On the final morning our guide took us out to view some of the well-preserved rock art that Bushmans Kloof is so famous for. After a scrumptious breakfast, we said goodbye to the lovely group of guests we had been spending our days with. Everyone agreed that it had been a very interesting and informative experience in a magnificent wilderness setting, even though the cats were not keeping up with their end of the bargain!
Leopard Trust will be hosting two more of these leopard tracking trips at Bushmans Kloof – from 27-29 June, and from 10-12 July. Please join us on these excursions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Bushmans Kloof reservation team on 021 481 1870 for more details.