Overberg camera survey – success & highlights!

Published: 02 November 2021

The Cape Leopard Trust Research team is pleased to report that our large-scale camera survey of the Overberg is yielding success! We are one third of the way into the data collection period, and have thus far photographed 32 mammal species, 4 domestic species (cat, dog, cow, sheep) and at least 15 bird species! We have recorded leopard presence at a third of the 86 sites so far. The camera grid spans the region from Botvlei in the west to De Hoop vlei in the east – a total survey area of over 2400 km2 and will be operational until the end of the year. We are very excited to see what the next round of servicing has in store – in the meantime enjoy a selection of highlight camera trap images in the gallery below!

Although the survey is progressing well, it has not been without its challenges. We currently have a shortage of reliable off-road field vehicles and have had to plan some clever logistics to get to all of the cameras in the shortest timespan possible. We are very thankful to our partners at Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy and Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA for assisting with servicing a significant number of camera traps. Another worry is that the summer fynbos veldfire season is upon is, and we have already had some tense moments when a fire burnt high up on the slopes of Fernkloof Nature Reserve behind Hermanus in gale-force winds. In such conditions one cannot put lives at risk to retrieve cameras to prevent damage or data loss. Thankfully, cool and wet weather the following day contributed to containing the flames. We were very happy and relieved when reserve management reported that the fire skirted the camera location, leaving our equipment unscathed. We urge people not to take risks when it comes to retrieving cameras that are in a fire’s path.

It was a privilege to share news about this project at two community engagements recently – via presentations to the Elim community as well as at the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative AGM. Another opportunity to engage is coming up shortly, at a fantastic Wine and Wildlife Evening at The Wine Glass restaurant in Hermanus on 4 November. Trevor DeRuisé of LOST BOY Wines will be releasing two unique, limited-edition wines in support of the Tale of Two Leopards project at a special tasting dinner in partnership with the Cape Leopard Trust and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. If you are in the Overberg region, please join us – you can find details on how to reserve your spot in the flyer below.

Enjoy the camera trap photo reel below! In case you missed it, also find fieldwork images of the survey setup here.