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Leopard Research Project, Greater Kruger

By June 27, 2017 May 7th, 2019 No Comments
Focused research on leopards through data collection assists with conservation solutions that protect species and individuals, and contributes to the health of the entire ecosystem.
Population of large carnivores are threatened and experiencing declines in numbers globally. Over a third of South Africa’s leopard habitat is found in just Limpopo province, yet 95% of that is outside of formally protected areas. Despite these issues, the majority of population and conservation-based research has occurred in protected areas. This has led to a lack of data or unreliable results to inform conservation practice.

It is vital that data collection is conducted on private land and that populations are studied in these areas to work towards evidence-based conservation practice. Ultimately, it is only through focused research in these areas that we can develop conservation solutions that will protect these species and individuals’ livelihoods, thus contributing to the health of entire ecosystems.

Through the camera traps bought and in use we are hoping to achieve:
– Leopard captures (photos collected on camera traps)
– Corridors monitored
– Density Studies completed
– Territorial/movement maps created for various predator species
– Snare sweeps completed

In the Greater Kruger Area, the Foundation liaise with multiple partners, both reserve and research, to maximise our data output and ensure that the conservation work we are undertaking with big cats and small species is beneficial and useful. The three main reserve partners, Buffaloland, Rietspruit and Balule, are essential areas to capture data, study specific animals and provide information to our research partners (INGWE, LiMF, Hyaena Specialist Group of the IUCN, EWT and Giraffe Conservation Foundation) to better assess distribution and abundance of their focal species.

  • 2017: We identified the great need of camera traps as a way for us to collect this crucial data in a non-invasive method and to study animals that are usually difficult to study under normal circumstances, such as highly elusive and/or nocturnal animals, especially leopards. The non-invasive camera traps negate the need for equipment such as radio collars and reduce the environmental impact of long game drives that would be necessary to obtain the same amount of data from one camera trap.
  • 2018: Funds were spent on maintaining the camera traps bought in 2017. Currently, we only have enough camera traps to cover a relatively large area of Buffaloland and a small area of Rietspruit.
  • 2019: Our aim is to increase the number of camera traps through an “Adopt a Camera Trap” programme to cover these missing areas and focus on Balule as it is open to Kruger National Park and has the potential for a large variety of species to be researched.