All those familiar with camera trapping – be it as a hobby or for research purposes – would know that patience really is a virtue…
In January this year our Boland team was contacted by Jannas Du Plessis from Ceres for some camera placement pointers. His aim was to capture a photo of a leopard in the surrounding mountains. It is known that these ghost-like cats do roam the rugged Skurweberge around Ceres, and once or twice a year one is sighted along the historic Michell’s Pass… But Jannas was bitten by the “camtrap bug” and his holy grail was a leopard shot…
In the end it took him nearly 6 months…but the reward was oh so sweet!!!
In his own words:
“Die mislukkings met die kamera, voor hierdie geluk skoot, was eintlik die lekkerste! Ja, sure, ek het harder geskree toe ek die foto gesien het as toe die Springbokke die rugby world cup gewen het! Die beplanning rondom die plek waar ek die kamera wou sit was great fun: Google Earth, oplees oor Cape leopard gedrag, julle raad, gereelde hikes in ons berge, soek vir spore en ander bewyse van luiperds. Dan die finale opstel en wag. Dit het ‘n hele nuwe wereld vir my oop gemaak, ek love dit!!! Dit laat mens heel anders na jou onmiddelike omgewing kyk! Ek sal dit vir enige persoon aanbeveel om n kamera te koop, of te borg. Dis regtig n adventure en money well spent. Niks soos om natuurbewaring en bewusmaking te bevorder, deur self deel te neem nie!”
“All the failures with the camera, before this lucky shot, were actually a lot of fun! Yes, sure, I shouted louder when I saw this photo than when the Springbucks won the rugby world cup!!
The planning around where to place the camera was great fun: Google Earth, reading up on Cape leopard behaviour, your advice, regular hikes in our mountains, looking for spoor and other evidence of leopard. Then the final set-up and wait. It opened up a whole new world to me, and I love it!!! It lets you observe your immediate environment in a whole new way! I would recommend it to anyone to buy or sponsor a trail camera. It is a real adventure and money well spent. Few things come close to promoting conservation and awareness like personal participation.”
Finally obtaining a leopard photo was ample reward for the long wait, but Jannas was really lucky to get a spotted cat walking past his camera trap during the day… His camera was set to take a 10 second video clip after it took the photo… See the awesome result below!
We are always grateful for leopard photos submitted to us by private individuals – to us it is not merely a nice photo, it is a vital data point. We have limited resources, and with the aid of private camera traps we can gather more monitoring data than we would otherwise be able to. All of our data are also submitted to the ADU MammalMap database where it forms part of a continent-wide effort to map modern-day occurrence of mammals throughout Africa. Become a citizen scientist today and contribute your photos too!
Video copyrighted to Jannas du Plessis