FNB W2W Route yields exciting discovery for the Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project

FNB W2W Route yields exciting discovery for the Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project
Published: 24 April 2015

A recent camera checking excursion to Pofadder, an infamous MTB structure on the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) route, has left the coordinators of the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) Boland Project really excited.

“We are currently running a full camera survey in the Limietberg area,” said Jeannie Hayward of the CLT Boland Project.  “As a result we needed to pull all of our monitoring cameras in other areas in order to have enough units for the survey.  When we checked the cards of the Pofadder camera, we were greeted by a very special surprise, a photograph of twin cubs.  We initially thought that the female on the photographs was Olive (Boland Female 14 / BF14), but as it turns out it was actually a new individual, now named Jade (Boland Female 18 / BF18)”.

“Photographs of female leopards are hard to come by as they tend to use the habitat differently compared to their male counterparts,” continues Hayward.  “Photographing female leopards with cubs is an even rarer occurrence.  The photographs were taken in August last year.  The camera batteries died a few months later, so we’re not sure whether Jade and her cubs are still around or whether they have moved on.  By now, however, the cubs should be old enough to start leaving mom and fending for themselves.  Leopards are fiercely territorial and it is highly unlikely that a territorial female will tolerate another breeding female with cubs in her territory. The fact that we found Jade where we used to find Olive may mean that Olive has either died, or has slightly shifted her territory and is no longer utilising or defending this area of the Groenlandberg.  The FNB W2W cameras not only help us to identify new individuals, but locations identified by the cameras aid us in forming a rough idea of each individual’s home range.  The cameras have also captured other animals in action such as large-spotted genet, small grey mongoose, porcupine, grysbok, duiker, honey badger and caracal”.

The FNB W2W MTB Event has been a supporter of the CLT Boland Project since 2011 when it first donated five digital camera traps to the project.  Placing these cameras along the FNB W2W MTB routes gives the Boland Project the opportunity to survey new locations within the study area, not only for leopard activity but also for the presence of other nocturnal and shy mammals.

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