May 21 2012

12:00 LSB 2320

Quinton Martins
The Cape Leopard Trust, Cape Town South Africa

Cape Mountain Leopards – small cats with big problems\?


The Cape Leopard Trust \(\) was launched in 2004 as a predator conservation working group in the Western Cape, South Africa. It uses research as a tool for conservation, finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict, and inspiring interest in the environment through an interactive and dynamic environmental education programme. The project was initiated by Quinton Martins in the Cederberg Mountains studying the ecology of the Cape mountain leopard, a highly elusive, yet persecuted predator differing in many respects from its northern counterparts. The greatest threat to predators has been the loss of habitat combined with persecution by livestock farmers. Leopards in the Cape have managed to survive intense persecution and severe habitat perturbation, and are now the last remaining large predator limited to inhabiting the rugged Cape Folded Mountains. The paucity of ecological information on this isolated population of comparatively small leopards, and their on-going persecution led to Quinton’s research, where using remote infra-red camera traps and GPS radio-collars, he was able to record data on their home ranges, population density, movement, activity, diet and future status in a human impacted habitat. Cape leopards occur in low densities with some of the largest home ranges recorded for the species, and leopard habitat is often inaccessible to human habitation. An important question is the potential impact humans may have on this “island” population inhabiting a fire-driven ecosystem. The successes of the Cape Leopard Trust suggest that understanding predator ecology allows for effective management of the species and changing perceptions of farmers in conflict with predators\; and that the use of the leopard as a flagship species can lead to broader environmental conservation.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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