The CLT Little Karoo leopard survey is underway!

Published: 27 October 2022

Followers of the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) may be wondering what our field research team has been up to after our Tale of Two Leopards Overberg survey concluded earlier in 2022. The exciting answer is that our camera traps are presently active, snapping images of leopards in the Little Karoo!

Intensive camera trapping research conducted by the CLT in the Little Karoo (Gamkaberg/Rooiberg corridor) in 2012, combined with a re-survey by Panthera in 2017, confirmed that leopards in this region, like elsewhere in the Western Cape, occur at a much lower population density compared to leopards in the Savannah biome.

The CLT is currently conducting another large-scale camera trap survey in the Little Karoo to obtain an up-to-date population density estimate, which will be compared to previous values. This will enable us to track changes in the Little Karoo leopard population over time, and to apply the necessary conservation interventions in partnership with the local community and conservation organisations.

The survey consists of 64 paired camera stations distributed across ± 2000 km2 of the Little Karoo landscape. The survey is being conducted in collaboration with CapeNature, with 29 stations falling within the Swartberg, Gamkaberg and Ruitersbos Nature Reserves. The remaining 35 stations are on private properties involving 26 different landowners – as always, the CLT is extremely grateful for the willing participation of so many landowners in granting us access to do our research!

We are also enormously thankful to Ford Wildlife Foundation for our sponsored Ranger, and to the Land Cruiser Club – Southern Africa for keeping Witblitz the Cruiser in tiptop shape. Reliable off-road vehicles are an indispensable part of field-based research. The first batch of images have already been downloaded from the cameras and we are thrilled to share some fieldwork and animal highlights with you in the photo gallery below! The Little Karoo camera survey forms part of the CLT's 5-year Conserving Leopards in a Changing Landscape project funded by Jamma International.

In conjunction with the research, the CLT’s education team is also planning environmental education activities aimed at schoolchildren in the region, and our conservation team will be delivering training and support for livestock and game farmers to mitigate conflict with leopards and other predators, and to promote holistic farm management methods that protect nature, benefit farmers and improve food security.

Watch this space for further exciting updates!