The Tale of Two Leopards in the Overberg ~ Creatures of the Corridor and Spotted on the Road

Published: 29 September 2023

The Tale of Two Leopards is a multifaceted collaborative project launched in June 2021 between the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), focussed on two iconic species in the Overberg region – the leopard and the Western leopard toad. Since the project’s inception, engaging with local organisations, landowners and communities has been key in facilitating research, innovative conservation approaches and environmental education.

In recent months, the CLT and EWT strengthened this collaborative effort by joining forces with Grootbos Foundation to begin exploring ideas to link the Walker Bay Protected Environment in the west with the Agulhas National Park and Nuwejaars Special Management Area in the east in an effort to maintain and improve habitat connectivity across the entire local ecosystem. This priority biodiversity area has been coined the Agulhas Green Corridor (AGC). So far, the AGC project has resulted in three biodiversity assessments (Bioblitzes) for private properties, a camera trap survey and amphibian acoustic monitoring surveys in the corridor area.

Preliminary findings of these surveys were shared with landowners and stakeholders at a ‘Creatures of the Corridor’ event held at Murasie on 20 September 2023. Co-hosted by the CLT, EWT, Grootbos Foundation and the Fynbos Trust, the gathering was aimed at celebrating the exceptional biodiversity, endemism and ecological importance of the Agulhas Plain. Feedback presentations highlighted what makes the area so special – from the incredibly diverse fynbos vegetation, to the rare and threatened amphibians, and varied mammal species. Landowners also had the opportunity to hear personal accounts about the benefit of applying a conservation management strategy on private land. A big thank you to Murasie for offering a discount on venue hire and support in organising the event, and to Conservation Allies and Jamma International for providing funding.

The Creatures of the Corridor event was followed by another exciting initiative culminating from the Tale of Two Leopards project. The ‘Spotted on the Road’ campaign was first launched in 2022, when five wooden reflective signs, designed by artist Bryan Little, were installed at Overberg locations where the risk of vehicle collisions with wildlife was high. Each sign featured a leopard and a Western leopard toad, and since the signs were erected, several requests came in for further signs at more locations – and a second round of Spotted on the Road signs was initiated.

Bryan Little again created the artwork, but this time gave it a more personal touch by featuring identified individual leopards photographed during the Overberg camera trap survey in 2021-2022. Each new leopard sign thus depicts a known local leopard photographed in the nearby area! (see images below) Four of the six new sign locations fell within Western leopard toad range, but two were sightly outside of their distribution so other threatened frog species are featured – a moonlight mountain toadlet and a microfrog.

The 2022 wooden signs are unfortunately already showing evidence of aging and cracking after a very wet winter, so the new signs were constructed from sturdier ACM panels with black background and reflective vinyl artwork to illuminate at night. Big thanks to Bryan for sponsoring the artwork creation on the 2023 signs, and to Conservation Allies and Rainforest Trust for providing funding. Thanks to all who assisted with erecting the signs, and to Ford Wildlife Foundation for a reliable vehicle to transport materials and conduct the fieldwork. The signs were manufactured by Ornate signs in Cape Town.

Enjoy some images of the sign deployment below!