Identification guide versions now dated 6th November 2015
6 Months at the Ta Shebube Polentswa waterhole
WARNING! Video contains lots of gemsbok.
If you would like to check out the highlights from 26,000 photos taken over the same period at the Ta Shebube Rooiputs lodge then head over to our facebook page.
Kgalagadi Cheetahs: Wild Talk on 26/10/2016
For those of you who are in Cape Town I shall be giving an update on the cheetah side of the project on the 26th October 2016 at the Canal Walk Cape Union Mart hosted by Wild Magazine. Should you wish to attend please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, drinks and refreshments will be served.
New Bumper Stickers
Due to overwhelming demand for the proud supporter stickers we've decided that for the time being we will only be printing these types of sticker. But, we're still providing options in the form of two new types of the sticker with a translucent background. You can now by a sticker with a white background or a translucent background with either the logo and text in black or white. If you would like one of these for your car, trailer or anywhere then please drop us an email.
Haigamas - 17 Years Old!
For those of you who read the wild magazine you might have heard about Haigamas, the secretive female leopard at Nossob. Thanks to a historical sighting submitted to the project by Matthias Graben placing Haigamas at Lijersdraai during November 2001 we have been able to estimate her age to be around 17 years old. This puts her in contention for the title of the oldest wild leopard known. Check out the article on page 11 of the Spring Wild magazine for all the details.
Welcome to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Leopard Project. On this site you can find out all about the project I am undertaking to study the ecology of the Kgalagadi leopards.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) leopard project has been operational since 2011 and is primarily composed of two principle aspects. The first is the production of an identification guide for the KTP leopards. The purpose of the guide is to enhance the visitor's experience of the park by providing them with the means to identify a leopard they see. Ideally the identification would take place during the sighting or possibly back at the camp. This can have the added bonus of pointing out useful information on the leopards they have seen, and under the right circumstances alerting the visitor to a cub they have not seen hiding in the surrounds. However, identifications after the trip can be extremely informative, particularly when you may realise that you have seen the same leopard many times.
The second aspect is the science that this project will undertake. Much like a static camera trap survey, every visitor and their camera can be utilised as a mobile camera trap. Using these 'trap events' or sightings, we can analyse the identifications, locations and times of the data to get a better understanding of the ecology of the Kgalagadi leopard. Since the conception of the project it has now been expanded to include a study of all the large carnivores and has been approved by SANParks Scientific Services. The Large Carnivore study is being coordinated in the KTP by SANParks Biotechnician Graeme Ellis.
Listed here are a few of the science questions that we are trying to answer with this study.
What is the total leopard population in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?
How are the leopards distributed and what are their range sizes?
What is the sex ratio?
What is the average lifespan for a KTP leopard?
How do young subadult leopards disperse? How long does it take and how far?
When do subadults enter the breeding population?
How can you help?
Firstly, I would like to thank you for visiting this site and for taking an interest in the project. Even though leopards are elusive and are often hard to see, we can actively track and monitor the Kgalagadi leopards as a result of the large number of visitors to the park. This is enabled through park visitors reporting any leopard sightings they have directly to me. This can be achieved by visiting the sighting report page. After I have received your sighting I shall add it to the database and either confirm your identification, or provide one if possible. There is always the possibility that the leopard you have seen is a new individual, in these cases a new page in the guide will be required and I shall contact you with regard to this.
But there are other ways you can help even if you are not about to visit the park. If you have visited the park in the past then you may have a historical leopard sighting. It may not be obvious but this sighting could be just as important as a recent sighting, if not more so. Historical sightings can often provide us with vital information about currently known leopards. This could be in the form of a first known sighting or an extension to a range, allowing older movements to be better understood. You may even be able to provide a genetic link between two leopards as was the case for Langklaas. Since this project began I have searched the SANParks forum for as many historical sightings as possible. As a result I now have records going back to 2006. If you have a historical sighting, no matter how long ago, and have a photograph to accompany it, then do please report it to me. You might well have the next missing key to the puzzle.
In July 2011 this project began with 27 individual leopards known. Today we now know of 117 individuals, of which 30 are regularly seen by visitors to the KTP on the South African side and 10 are seen in the Mabuasehube section in Botswana. We have also managed to track the dispersal of two young female leopards from their respective births in late 2005 and March 2010 to their current territory locations, sadly one of these female passed away in May 2014 so her story has come to a premature end. However, over the past few years we have been tracking a young male called Tebogo disperse away from his mothers territory. He seems to be staying in the river bed allowing us to continue to track his journey southward. This project is still in its early days, and there is a lot to still do, but with your help we can really make a difference in understanding the life of the Kgalagadi leopard.