Wild Overberg camera leopard

The Cape Leopard Trust captured more than 24 leopards and a hippo in a recent survey. Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust.

Wild in the Overberg: Cameras capture 24 leopards and a hippo [photos]

The Overberg is indeed wild with wildlife. In a recent camera survey, more than 24 leopards and a hippo was spotted.

Wild Overberg camera leopard

The Cape Leopard Trust captured more than 24 leopards and a hippo in a recent survey. Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust.

The Cape Leopard Trust research team is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife, specifically in the Overberg area. And according to a camera survey, the project has been wildly successful.

The trust has been keeping a close eye on the wildlife in the area and surveyed an area spanning over 2400 km2 – from Botvlei in the west to De Hoop vlei in the east, as reported by capetownetc.

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THE OVERBERG WILD UNDER SURVEILLANCE

Between August 2021 and January 2022, the trust strategically placed 86 paired camera stations along jeep tracks and hiking trails in the area known for its Fynbos.

“By the end of the survey, we had amassed just over 230 000 photos. Manually sorting, identifying and tagging all of these is a mammoth task and we are very fortunate to have amazing support from WildID – a fantastic online machine learning programme that semi-automates the process of identifying and labelling the species in each of these images!” the Cape Leopard Trust said in a statement.

Initial results from the survey revealed good species diversity with at least 27 native wild mammal species recorded. A number of re-introduced and non-native species were also recorded, as per the trust’s website.

Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA

Much to the trust’s delight, the cameras also captured several animals that the team is not used to seeing. Sightings included a hippo (in the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA), a Cape dune molerat, fallow deer and a lone vervet monkey (possibly an escaped pet), according to capetownetc.

“Although birds regularly show up on our camera traps in regions like the Cederberg, Boland, Piketberg and Little Karoo, the team was quite surprised by the number and variety of different birds recorded in the Overberg – with at least 15 different feathered species making an appearance on the cameras. “Even more heartening was the presence of many baby birds – with blue cranes, Denham’s bustard, ostriches and spur-winged geese all showing off their chicks,” the trust’s team said.

The survey also recorded widespread leopard presence (at 50 of the 86 camera trap stations – representing 58% of locations). Pattern recognition software and observer confirmation by eye were used to individually identify at least 24 adult leopards and 7 juveniles (from 4 litters). A total of 526 leopard photographs were taken.

Together with an MSc student from the University of Cape Town, the Cape Leopard Trust team is now working to ascertain the leopard population density in the greater Overberg region.

Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust

THE SUCCESS OF THE SURVEY

“A camera survey of this magnitude can really only be successful with the buy in and support of all parties involved, and the Cape Leopard Trust team would like to thank all the landowners who assisted us and permitted us to place camera traps on their properties.”

“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy and Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA for their invaluable assistance with fieldwork and landowner communication, with special thanks to Denel OTR (Denel Overberg Test Range), SANParks Agulhas NP and CapeNature for their collaboration.” the trust said on their website.

Take a look at some of the sightings:

Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust
Photo: The Cape Leopard Trust

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