Massive male leopard collared in the Gouritz area

Published: 11 October 2010

Oom Pep (or GM1 to the scientists) was the first leopard to be photographed by the Cape Leopard Trust’s camera traps in the Gouritz region. He was initially photographed on the Tierkloof hiking trail at Gamkaberg Nature Reserve in late 2007, and made regular trips down the trail over the following few years. We decided to name him after a former CapeNature ranger who once saw a leopard in Tierkloof, and tells the story of the encounter with great excitement and verve to this day!

Oom Pep holds the distinction of being the most photographed leopard in the Gouritz area, and has been photographed at six different camera stations. In the past year he appears to have been evicted from the Tierkloof area by another male (who continues to share hiking trails with visitors to the reserve). Nevertheless, Oom Pep has remained a regular visitor to our camera stations and has also been photographed being followed by a female in recent months.

One of the many camera trap photos of ‘Oom Pep’

Not surprisingly, a leopard as wily as Oom Pep proved difficult to capture, but after several months we finally succeeded in capturing and collaring him on Groenefontein Nature Reserve. This is now the second leopard collared for Gareth’s PHD project. While we expected him to be a big, dominant male, he surpassed our expectations, weighing in excess of 50kg! Oom Pep is thus of a similar size to leopards in the northern bushveld areas of South Africa, which was totally unexpected in an area where the biggest leopards were thought to weigh around 40kg.

‘Oom Pep’ with Cornelius, one of the dedicated Cape Nature rangers from Gamkaberg, during the capture

It remains to be seen whether Oom Pep is simply an unusually large male, or whether all males in the Gouritz area grow to be considerably larger than their counterparts in the Cederberg Mountains. Either way, it’s safe to say that this titan of the Little Karoo has many more surprises in store for us!

Aneri Vlok
Gouritz Project
The Cape Leopard Trust

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