Lights, Camera, Leopards

Lights, Camera, Leopards!

Belinda and I recently hiked the 4 day Leopard Trail in the Baviaanskloof. Hands down, it was the most fun we have had on a hike in years. You can read our blog post on our Leopard Trail experience here.

There was one question on our minds while hiking through the beautiful Baviaanskloof. Are there actually leopards still living here? While we did see a lot of spoor that appeared to us to be leopard spoor, none of us are experts in animal tracks. Some of these leopard spoor were right outside our campsite! 

There is an exciting project underway to answer exactly that question and more. What makes the project much more exciting is that it is being driven by 8 kids who have a passion for the great outdoors and who want get involved in researching one of the most beautiful and graceful members of the cat family. It follows that the more we know about the leopards in the Baviaanskloof, the better we will be able to conserve them.

The Eastern Cape Parks Board is running an extensive Leopard research project in adjacent parts of the Baviaans, and the kids are collaborating with their project. The EC Parks Board has had many research institutions working with them, and will be sharing data and initiatives.  

The main goal of this research is to position cameras along the Leopard hiking trail to record the movements and the numbers of leopard across the reserve. The kids are keen to get hikers to help them with this research, by marking their sightings of leopard spoor on a map. This is what the kids have to say about their project:

 

“We are a group of eight kids between 9 and 11 years old.  Two of our group will be moving to live on the farm at the base camp of  the Leopard Trail for a year – and as part of their home schooling they have to do a big project.  As a group of 8 friends we have decided to make this a group project.” 

 

A Thundafund account has been set up to raise the R120 000 to fund this project. They have set out two clear milestones:

 

Milestone 1: At our tipping point of R20 000, we can set up two monitoring points.  Proper research requires two cameras at each spot, one on each side of the trail.  This ensures we take a photo of each leopard from both sides, making sure we are not counting a single leopard twice by comparing spots from different sides.  As each camera is R5000, it costs us R10 000 per location.

Milestone 2: Our goal is 12 monitoring locations, which adds up to our target of R120 000.  More than this will be great, we can cover a wider area and support the parks board with more info.”

 

The first funding milestone of raising R20 000 before 05 March 2019 has been achieved. As of 13 February 2019, they had already raised R25 600. 

If you want to get involved and pledge your support to this very interesting and unique research project, you can visit their Thundafund page here. Click on the Fund This Project button.

For more information on the many diverse adventures to be had in the Baviaanskloof, visit the Go Baviaans website.



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