The Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project, launched in March 2010, extends from the Groot Winterhoek Mountains right down to the Overstrand coast at Betty's Bay and Kleinmond.
The main objectives of this project are to estimate how many leopards still roam the mountains of the Boland and investigate their home range size, movement patterns, habitat use and diet; to identify areas of farmer/leopard conflict; and to investigate resident mammal populations.
What we do
The Cape Leopard Trust Boland project is a field study of the Cape leopard population in the Boland Mountains. This study aims to establish the first rigorous population estimates for leopards in this region, and to identify possible conflict hotspots. The ultimate objectives of the research are to:
- Obtain baseline data necessary for ensuring the survival of leopards in the Cape mountains;
- Alleviate leopard-farmer conflict;
- Establish the presence/absence/relative abundance of resident mammal populations.
Valuable baseline data on a wide variety of mammal species will contribute to a better understanding of the Boland ecosystem, ensuring better insight into future management of this unique area. All data will be fed into the CapeNature State of Biodiversity (SOB) database, as well as the University of Cape Town's Animal Demography Unit (ADU), and will be submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals for publication.
Where we are
The Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project stretches from Beaverlac Nature Reserve and the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness (near Porterville) in the north, right down to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve (Betty's Bay & Kleinmond region) in the south – covering a total area of over 3000 km2.
The core of the study area consists of six CapeNature managed areas, namely the Groot Winterhoek, Limietberg (Hawequa), Hottentots-Holland, Jonkershoek, Groenlandberg and Kogelberg Nature Reserves, along with the City of Cape Town Helderberg and Kogelberg Reserves. A large proportion of the study area, however, is located on private reserves, farms and private water catchment areas adjacent to the core research area, and the involvement and support of private landowners is pivotal to the project's success. Our surveys will as far as possible include privately owned land regarded as suitable leopard habitat.
To survey such a large area more effectively with the available resources, the greater study area is divided into three sections:
- Beaverlac/Groot Winterhoek/Waterval/Voëlvlei (northern section);
- Limietberg (central section);
- Jonkershoek/Hottentots-Holland/Kogelberg (southern section).
Since the inception of the project, we have managed to photograph over 50 adult and sub-adult leopards in the area stretching from Bain's Kloof southwards to the Kogelberg. Camera surveys are used to identify individual leopards. Each leopard is numbered in order of identification, and the number is preceded by the letter 'F' (female) or 'M' (male) as well as the letter 'B' to denote that the leopard was found in the Boland project area, e.g. BF3 is the third female leopard to have been identified in the Boland. Some of these leopards have been given their own non-scientific names as well. As each leopard has a unique spot pattern, a left and right hand photograph are needed in order to establish an identikit.
In addition, the presence of 24 other mammal species have been recorded, including African weasel, African wild cat, caracal, small- & large-spotted genet, Cape fox, aardwolf, baboon, Cape clawless otter, water mongoose, small & large grey mongoose, striped polecat, honey badger, porcupine, dassie, red rock rabbit, Cape & scrub hare, klipspringer, Cape grysbok, common duiker, grey rhebuck, and even bushbuck.
Camera surveys are still underway throughout the study area, to obtain seasonal variation for each area, and to continue with the project's objectives. Our data thusfar has provided valuable information the mammalian inhabitants of this region.
For a full list and camera trap photographs of the Boland leopards, click here.
If you would like to specifically support the research and conservation in our Boland project, click here. You will be able to contribute directly to this project by looking at our wish list, or you can donate to the Cape Leopard Trust as an organisation.