Leopard Tracking for the Cape Leopard Trust

Aug 4, 2009

Mission: Track Collared Leopards
Date: 4 August 2009
Requesting organisation: Cape Leopard Trust
Location: Cederberg, Western Cape
Pilot: Johan Ferreira

In August pilot Johan Ferreira flew the third of our missions this year to help Quinton Martins of the Cape Leopard Trust to track collared leopards in the Cederberg, in the Western Cape.

From the left:  Bateleurs pilot Johan Ferreira, with Quinton Martins and Willem Titus of the Cape Leopard Trust

Leopard Tracking for the Cape Leopard Trust
by passenger Quinton Martins

“On the 4th of August 2009 Johan Ferreira and I took to the air on a chilly Cederberg winter morning.  Our mission was to locate and track F5, otherwise known as ‘Lizzy’, our female leopard.   A few months prior to this flight we had tried to track her with a helicopter – also a Bateleurs flight – but had no luck. We suspected her collar had died on us, but were concerned that she too she might have died as we had seen no sign of her.  Unfortunately, this flight was no different.  Although it was a stunning morning and we enjoyed great flight, we did not hear a peep on the VHF receiver as we circled several times around a 500 sq. km area.

That was that!  There was no way of finding Lizzy using her R30,000 collar, so we set up more infra-red camera traps in her area.  Eventually, on the 3rd of September, we retrieved one of the digital camera cards and to our great relief saw Lizzy in good health, sniffing the perfume we use to slow them down as they walk past the cameras. The downside is that her collar has definitely malfunctioned and we have possibly lost a whole year’s worth of very valuable data.  We will try and recapture her to remove the collar in the new year once it has cooled down a little.  With any luck, the data may yet be retrieved.

Many thanks to The Bateleurs and Johan for their amazing support.  Tracking these elusive cats in these wild mountains will always be difficult, but the flights made possible by The Bateleurs have been an incredible help.”

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