Leopard Projects
May 3, 2024

An Update on KwaZulu-Natal's Leopard Survey this International Leopard Day

In 2013, amidst growing concerns about the decline of Leopards in fragmented habitats, the Kwazulu-Natal Leopard Monitoring Project (KZNLMP) was initiated through collaboration between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Panthera, and Wildlife ACT.

The aim of the KZNLMP is to provide robust data on Leopard population trends, informing conservation policy and adaptive management. And the results? Truly exciting!

Over the last 10 years, through robust monitoring efforts, we've covered 393,530 hectares of KwaZulu-Natal, spanning 16 protected areas. Within these landscapes, we've identified and monitored 281 female as well as 225 male Leopards, gaining invaluable insights into their behaviour and movements.

Perhaps most excitingly, we have managed to track the remarkable journeys of individual male Leopards through camera traps, with one male covering an astounding distance of 111km across various Protected Areas. These findings highlight the importance of maintaining corridors between protected areas for Leopard survival.

Together, we've received over 13 000 Leopard images from citizen scientist and protected areas managers, enriching our understanding of Leopard movements across the landscape. But we couldn't have achieved these milestones alone. Our gratitude extends to our partners, donors, and citizen scientists whose support and contributions have been instrumental in our success.

Given the elusive and free-roaming nature of Leopards, the success of our surveys would not be possible without the crucial support of private game reserves and landowners. We thank those who have partnered with us for providing access to set up camera traps and for doing their part for the conservation of this iconic species.

Today, let's celebrate not only the resilience of Leopards but also the collective efforts that have safeguarded their future. Here's to continued collaboration and conservation for the benefit of these pragmatic creatures and the ecosystems they call home.

Text by Wildlife ACT Leopard Programme Manager, Danielle Theron

With thanks to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Panthera, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Aurex Constructors, and Invicta Wildlife Fund