Established in 2004, The Cape Leopard trust is located in South Africa’s Western Cape and is committed to protecting the area’s beautiful and illusive Cape Leopard. Historically, leopards lived happily in the Cape, along with elephants, rhinos and lions. However, as human development of the area increased and the species was hunted, the leopards retreated to the Cederberg Mountains, where they remain today. A champion of sustainable tourism and conservation, Bushmans Kloof works closely with the trust, which describes itself as an ‘active predator conservation working group.’ Both the hotel and the Trust are united in their mission to protect the leopard populations of the Cederberg Mountains and safeguard their survival by helping to preserve their natural habitat and ensure that they can co-exist with people.
The NGO organisation does this, primarily, through rigorous research. The idea behind this is that by collecting accurate field data, the team are better equipped to make well informed decisions which are backed by scientific fact. In turn, this also helps the Trust’s work in seeking solution for human-wildlife conflict, as well as inspiring others to take an active interest in the environment via its environmental educational programme. Meticulous research is not only carried out on the leopards themselves but also on the predators that they face in the wild. A variety of methods is used and modern technology, such as GPS satellite tracking devices and remote-sensing cameras, has proved invaluable in the Cape Leopard Trust’s research, especially given the secretive nature of the leopards and the difficult terrain of the Cederberg Mountains.
Using a combination of camera trapping, dietary analysis, safe and humane trapping techniques and radio telemetry, the group is able to keep track of the 30 to 35 leopards that live in the mountains. Fortunately, each leopard has its own unique spot pattern which makes it possible to identify individual animals and keep an accurate count of their numbers. Other characteristics include their small size; the Cape leopards are half the size of other leopards in Africa, and also have far larger territories than other varieties, living off a limited diet which largely consists of klipspringer antelopes and large rodents called dassies.
Keen to preserve the biodiversity of the fynbos and promote ecological conservation, Bushmans Kloof and the Treadright Foundation are committed to supporting the work of the Cape Leopard Trust. The hotel was one of the main sponsors of the trust’s GPS collaring project, which provides a vital insight into leopard behaviour and movement. Furthermore, Bushmans Kloof is well within the territory of the Cape Mountain Leopard. These beautiful animals are occasionally spotted near to the property, and guests at the Reserve might even be lucky enough to spot one of these notoriously shy leopards in the flesh.
Appreciate the incredible biodiversity of the fynbos on one of Bushmans Kloof’s guided nature drives or walks.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.