The focus of our project in South Africa at this moment is our co-operation with three incredible Private Game Reserves (names mentioned at final stage) in the Eastern Cape, to have our leopard youngsters (Solo, Olive and later Bahati & Bella) released. The Reserves are very interested in leopards from our bloodlines and our ultimate mission is to have them released, and live wild and free roaming.
Of course as always the only obstruction, or delay, is by applying for the permits, or better: to have the forest dept. grant the permits.
While the leopards in certain parts of South Africa, like the Free State, are doing well in some National Parks and Private Game Reserves, the leopardpopulation in the Eastern Cape is almost extinct, and now also confirmed that even the Cape Leopard Population near Cederberg/Capetown, is having far more dramatic numbers than first was claimed.
While in the (Eastern) Cape not just the Cape Leopard is roaming freely, of course also the common African Leopard does have a place in this area, like in the whole of Africa, if people let them.
Nature Conservation is reluctant to grant permits for a release of common African Leopards in the Eastern Cape, for some not-valid reason, claiming “just” the Cape Leopard is living in this area of South Africa.
Of course we, and the managment of the Private game Reserves, don’t take no for an answer, and are working hard behind the scenes to collect info, to hand in motivation letters along with the application for the permits.
Maybe a good idea for all to read the following article, confirming how dramatically the numbers have declined in the Cape, and that is almost impossible to collect data, and to sight leopards in this area. Like we are saying all the time: leopard conservation, in-situ and ex-situ, is most essential at this moment. So the person basically saying “NO” to a release in the foremost Private Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape, will in fact be responsible to the leopard getting extinct in this area. Do they want to be responsible for this?
“…….the complete absence of leopards is concerning. In total the survey effort was 2 334 days – substantially higher than the average survey effort in KZN of 1 692 days*. While this may not have been a sufficient period to obtain enough leopard pictures to generate a population density estimate, we would have expected to obtain some leopard pictures. Camera trap surveys in the mountainous regions of the Western Cape where leopard densities are similarly low (1 leopard per 100km2) have typically recorded at least 1 photo per 100 days of camera trapping.
*This is calculated by multiplying the number of camera trap sites / stations by the number of days spent in the field.
For example, studies in the Cederberg Mountains and Little Karoo both recorded leopards at a rate of approximately 0.012 leopard captures per day (Martins 2010, Mann 2014). A similar capture rate in the Drakensberg would have yielded around 27 leopard captures during this survey. While this is a coarse measure, it does show that leopard capture rates in the Drakensberg are much lower than have been recorded in other, reasonably analogous areas.
While it would be premature to suggest that leopards are absent from the southern Drakensberg, these results confirm a more general trend of extremely low leopard numbers in marginal habitat areas. This is of concern as these areas are generally considered to support extant leopard populations and account for a significant proportion of leopard habitat in South Africa (Swanepoel et al. 2013).
The results of this Drakensberg leopard survey suggest that, while leopards may persist in the Drakensberg, their numbers are possibly too low to constitute a functioning population. While monitoring leopard populations in mountainous areas is difficult and time-consuming, these are important refugia and habitat links in the context of the broader South African leopard population. We recommend further research to establish whether leopards are still extant in the southern Drakensberg, as well as to identify possible management interventions that could allow for population recovery.”
Call to Action – Please share! Please drive cautiously in mountainous areas! Leopard hit by car in Bainskloof – Death of BM30
On Thursday 16 Feb 2017, a leopard was hit by a car in Bainskloof Pass near Wellington. The animal sustained severe injuries, including a broken back as well as internal trauma, and sadly had to be put down.
The Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project was notified of the incident by partner organisation CapeNature, and a CLT researcher inspected the carcass to take various morphometric measurements and some samples.
The leopard was a beautiful and healthy adult male. He was known to us from camera trap photos as a territorial male in the larger Bainskloof area, and was referred to as BM30 (Boland Male #30). He was quite large for a fynbos leopard, weighing in at 37kg and was estimated to be around 5 years old. Although the loss of such a magnificent animal is extremely unfortunate and certainly undesirable, the local leopard population is healthy. BM30’s home range will most likely be taken over by a strong young male who had been waiting for an opportunity to hold a territory.
Leopards being hit and killed by vehicles is fortunately not a regular occurrence in the Western Cape. However we would like to draw attention to the possibility that it can – and does – happen, and every time it does it is an unnecessary loss of life. Almost all incidents happen at night, on mountain passes and roads going through mountainous terrain. Leopards have been hit by vehicles on Piekenierskloof pass south of Citrusdal, Michell’s Pass outside Ceres, Bainskloof, the N1 through Du Toitskloof, Franschhoek pass and on the R44 coastal road between Gordons Bay and Rooiels. We would like to extend a call to action to all motorists using these roads to please exercise caution and drive slowly – not only for the sake of leopards, but also their prey and other small carnivores. Countless mammals get run over by cars on the roads leading through and around the mountains every day. Caracal, mongoose, genet, polecat, honey badger, porcupine, rabbit, hare, dassie, etc – all fall victim to reckless driving and speeding on our roads.
We ask that you share this widely and encourage everyone you know to take a moment to consider the wildlife which often has no choice but the use the roads that now traverse their fynbos habitat.
A camera trap photo of BM30, taken between Eerste and Tweede Tol in Bainskloof.
Insert: a photo taken soon after the accident by a passer-by.
Shareable weblink: http://bit.ly/BM30Bains
As announced before, in the new issue of the Dutch domestic cats magazine Kattenmanieren, again a fabulous article on WCW and all wild catspecies. In this issue an extra touch of the wild, so also extra pages dedicated to the wild relatives of the domestic cats. Mention of all species, and of course focus on the WCW species African wildcats, Black-footed Cats, Caracals, Cheetahs, Leopards and Servals, with page filling picture of one of the ambassadors of each species. Black-footed cat Diva starring on the cover.
For sale now in the better bookshops in the Benelux, but for who wants to enjoy photography and education by WCW founder/CEO Babette de Jonge, you can order issues by writing to:
Janine Verschure (editor), firstname.lastname@example.org. After payment for the magazine and postage she will send you the ordered copy.
With Christmas and the New Year within our reach again, a word of gratitude and hope is essential and very welcome too. Looking back and looking ahead…..
First of all we like to send a huge thanks from the bottom of our hearts, to all our true supporters, sponsors, volunteers, (assisting) caretakers, (symbolic) adoption parents…friends and family…who through good and bad times are there and have faith in what we do, loving our ambassadorcats of all species (see mentioned below) with all their hearts. Without you all, it would be far more difficult and above all far less fun to keep the fight for the wild cats going, in natural habitat, in our one captive project (sanctuary/conservation project) and in all other projects undertaken with our foundation Wild Cats World.
2016 was a year of mixed feelings again. There’s always the great sorrow to hear how many wild cats and other wildlife are endangered and killed (for fun and greed), and how few there are left. The sabotaging of forest departments and nature orgs, making it almost impossible to do good for the cats (esp. as for releasing and free ranging projects….) in both Indonesia (Java) but also in South Africa.
In small there’s also the usual hassles at the sanctuary/conservation project in South Africa. People wanting to make it difficult for us, or criticising without knowing what you are actually doing. So not helping but obstructing the best care and future for the cats we love and respect so much.
But there were meetings with new great people, private game reserves, (assisting) caretakers, volunteers……which gives hope for the future, hope for the New Year.
There were some essential births, which also gave ourselves joy and heartache. Some were successful like with leopard Felicia, African wildcat Louise and in some, no matter how great the first time mommies were, sadly no survivors, as for serval Joy and caracal Nina.
But new hope on the horizon, first of all for Joy, who will soon have another chance and we feel convinced signs are better now.
There were sad losses in 2016, like in every year. Apart from the few new borns, also serval Mick and black-footed cat female Beauty, both to kidney failure. It was so sad having to let them go. R.I.P to our two darlings, who will never be forgotten.
Apart from losses also a few great new additions: serval male Norrick and black-footed cats Lilly and Spotty. And of course the new-born survivors Solo (leopard), Stars & Stripes (African wildcats).
With new energy, new hope and lots new projects in mind we can only look ahead to the future of Wild Cats World with hope, joy and confidence. But even more so, heartache and sorrow for the relatives in the wild, who struggle every year more to survive, and with all the wars, politics and people going mad out there……
A big thank you and we hope we can count on your support again in 2017 and the coming years!!!!
Babette de Jonge (founder/CEO)
African wildcats: Sid, Louise, Max, Maurice, Ruben, Stars & Sandy
Black-footed cats: Diva, Lilly & Spotty
Caracals: Leo & Nina, but also Lea & Thilido (DCP)
Cheetahs: Speedy, Spiky & Sunny
Leopards: Feline & Félipe, Felix & Felicia, Olive, Solo
Servals: Joy & Norrick
Pioneering work aimed at saving the iconic Scottish wildcat using almost 150 volunteers and 347 trail cameras in five specific areas in Scotland has so far identified at least 19 wildcats based on coat markings.