Flying for Lizzy

Published: 09 June 2009

We have been vainly hoping to download GPS collar data from ‘Lizzy’, the female leopard (F5). Lizzy lives in the most inaccessible region of all the collared leopards in the Cederberg. When she was first collared, her home range was accessible, but she has since shifted her range into an extremely rugged part of the eastern Cederberg. Despite checking for the signal daily, there has been no sign of her. Furthermore, her collar was not functioning properly, so that when we were able to communicate with it, we struggled to get a GPS download.

We were beginning to wonder if Lizzy was still alive, when we were relieved to get a remote camera trap photo of her on the 20th of May. With no other way to get a download from her GPS collar, we needed to fly. Quinton planned to remotely activate a release mechanism on the collar so that it would drop off and we could retrieve the data that way.

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The Bateleurs, a long-time sponsor of our project arranged a tracking flight for us and on 27th May, Jock Kannemeyer, a Bateleurs pilot, flew up to the Cederberg in a helicopter from Cape Town. We were collected at Mount Ceder – bristling with cables and antennas everywhere. The weather conditions were perfect and the view was breathtaking. However, despite flying over Lizzy’s range twice (an area of about 20,000hectares), we were unable to locate her. We had to give up in frustration and hope that we’d be lucky some other time. A cage trap has now been set to capture her and re-collar her with an improved collar.

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We are most grateful to the Bateleurs for making the flight possible and to Jock for his amazing support, time, patience and skill offered to the project.

The Cape Leopard Trust Trapping Techniques

icon no trap Short overview of three trapping methods considered by the Cape Leopard Trust as safe and humane

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