I told you exciting things will be happening very soon: Quinton Martins, the project manager of the Cape Leopard Trust and my supervisor in the field (on the right side of the picture) has been trapping to collar leopards in the Driehoek area of the Cederberg. Several people (Dawie and Lizette Burger, Jurg Studer) were assisting with the trap monitoring every 2-3hrs (all day/night) using trap transmitters.
The capture crew (from the left to the right): Elizabeth Martins, Dawie Burger, Patrick Lane (Cape Nature), Dr. Mark Walton (the vet) and Quinton Martins.
At 11pm last night, Dawie called Quinton to say one of the foot loop traps had been triggered. Quinton came and woke me up (yeah some people are sleeping while others are working!). I couldn’t believe that after less than a week in the Cederberg, I was fortunate enough to be part of a Cape leopard capture! Indeed, a leopard was in the trap, nicely caught on the left front paw. Dawie had checked the trap at 10pm, so the leopard had only been in the trap for an hour at most. The vet arrived by 2am, and the darting procedure went very well (I have to say Quinton was extremely happy, like all of us). It was a young male leopard in good condition.
Dr. Quinton Martins is weighing a GPS collar before fitting it to the leopard.
After checking with the vet the claws and teeth of the leopard, we can say that the method of the foot loops traps are safe for the animal, which is very important. We were all impressed with this excellent trapping method for large carnivores. As you can tell from the photos I took, all the most important “tackle” were in perfect condition – claws, teeth and his paw was absolutely fine.
We eventually went to sleep at about 5:30 am, tired but very pleased with the work done. Would you like to know more about this sub-adult leopard (where his territory is, who are his parents)? Just go and check the Cape Leopard Trust’s website for more exciting news.
It’s time for me to get all my equipment ready for tomorrow: I’m going into the field to look for claw marks (leopard’s and caracal’s) on trees and then find new places to set up some traps. See you soon everyone!