Conservation in the hands of communities

Conservation in the hands of communities
Published: 11 May 2021

The Cape Leopard Trust strongly believes in broad environmental outreach and training to introduce people living in leopard areas to the wonders and importance of biodiversity. By involving local communities in conservation activities, we not only increase the effectiveness and sustainability of these activities but help to build the knowledge and skills of community members. Part of this vision is our Conservation Activator programme, through which we train community-elected representatives to be Verification Officers (VOs) who assess livestock predation sites, promote humane predator deterrents, and raise awareness of predator behaviour and conflict-mitigation techniques within their communities.

We recently hosted a workshop to train a further three VOs to extend the reach of this programme. Our three existing VOs (Frank Scheepers, Roscoe Ockhuys and Ben Farmer) joined the training to mentor the new candidates and refresh their own knowledge. Stewart and Lionel van Rooy and Ricardo Salomo were trained in predator behaviour and ecology, carcass evaluation (identifying the responsible predator species at a kill site, a.k.a. Crime Scene Investigation), and conflict mitigation methods. Practical work included the setting of camera traps, keeping a predation incident register as well as recording the evidence at a kill site using CyberTracker devices. Each officer was equipped with a camera trap and a Blackview Smartphone for data collection. Afterwards, the new VOs received their certificates as officially trained CLT Verification Officers. Having six VOs enables us to reach a much larger area within the Wupperthal communal region and safeguard the leopards in the area while also helping with better livestock protection.

The Cape Leopard Trust would like to thank all project partners and sponsors: Table Mountain FundHi-TecFord Wildlife Foundation and ABAX Foundation. A special thanks to Jaco van Deventer from CapeNature for sharing his expertise on carcass evaluation and leading that part of the training, and also to Heuningvlei Backpackers for hosting the workshop.

Acceptable trapping techniques

icon no trap The Cape Leopard Trust’s position statement on acceptable trapping techniques for carnivore research

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