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US$ 110 000 has been given to the Cape Leopard Trust

Published: 25 March 2008

A grant of US$ 110 000 has been given to the Cape Leopard Trust to set up a new leopard project in Namaqualand. This substantial amount of funding has come from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and Conservation International (CI).

The project will be run by Ben-Jon Dreyer, a very enthusiastic young conservationist. He will be assisted on a rotational basis by community field workers trained by the Biota group, as well as by a BSc Honours graduate, Gail Potgieter from Pietermaritzburg. Gail has volunteered her services to the CLT for the entire year in an effort to gain some work experience before registering for a Masters degree in Zoology.

The study will take place in the Kamiesberg Mountains – in the Garies -Kamieskroon part of Namaqualand famous for its flowers in spring. Soon visitors will not only have the luxury of visiting this area as being one of the worlds floral hotspots, but also as an area that hosts diverse fauna in an incredible landscape. Remote digital cameras will be deployed to monitor faunal activity in the hope of capturing data on leopard.

Historical evidence suggests leopards were resident in this area, but are now locally extinct. Skeid (1982) refers to a note made by Barnabas Shaw in 1817 when at Leliefontein mission station on the Kamiesberge, that “tigers” (local name for leopards) were very destructive among cattle, horses and foals”. Shortridge (1936) wrote “Leopards are no longer resident in the Kamiesberg...”

Quinton and his fiancée Elizabeth (Liz) Bond visited the region in January. Contrary to the bleak view expressed above, we believe leopards still pass through this magnificent region. Whether they are resident or not, we shall soon see. This habitat would make for an ideal leopard corridor linking this hilly and mountainous terrain up to the Gariep (Orange) River and Richtersveld. We will keep you updated with the progress of this project.