07 June, 2013

Cape mountain leopard 3 hours later

As I write Cape Town is locked in the fourth glacial cold front bringing sub-polar air from Antarctica, with freaky hail storms. Inspiring a Chip Snaddon cartoon about bi-polar bears off Cape Town. While Europe is immersed in floods. In Switzerland young birds are battling the cold and wet. There are not enough insects to feed the fledglings and it will be a few good years before the bird population recovers.

Uitkyk Pass looking towards Algeria Forestry Station


At the end of April it was still camping weather, as Jurg travelled the Uitkyk Pass to Driehoek for another week of monitoring traps. He volunteers with the Cape Leopard Trust.  Since he began, they have been trying to recapture wily matriarch Spot to replace the battery in her GPS collar.

Moon over Middelberg

For him, it is a grateful opportunity to get in two long daily hikes in the Cederberg. Sometimes making his own route across the landscape, when the traps are set away from the well-trodden hiking trails.

Baboons at the top of Uilsgat 

Wary baboons

Up in the mountains the baboons are wary of people. Unlike their city fringe cousins, who can become ‘problem animals’. Practical do's and don'ts for living alongside baboons. Jurg sat on the rocks for an hour, as the baboons watched him. They came slowly closer, till they were about 10 metres away. Curiosity grunting back and forth, Jurg and the baboons talking.

Baboons are curious

Megan Murgatroyd researches Black Eagles at Driehoek. She too spent an hour sitting on a rock, watching as her Black Eagles mobbed a Cape mountain leopard.

Cape leopard trap concealed on the path up to Uilsgat

The traps are set, some on the trails. 

At 8AM Jurg is carefully closing the trap, to avoid capturing careless hikers during the day. In the late afternoon he returns to open them again for the night.

Jurg at 8AM closing the trap to avoid capturing  an unwary hiker
Copyright to the Cape Leopard Trust

Cape mountain leopard at 11AM, only 3 hours later
Copyright to the Cape Leopard Trust

By 11AM the automatic camera, which is triggered by movement, proves – here be LEOPARDS! The young male walks past oblivious of the closed trap on his path. This camera trap picture is a wonderful reward for his over 3 years of volunteering with the Cape Leopard Trust.

PS our quarterly Adopt-A-Spot newsletter arrived yesterday. The CLT says 'it's just the delicate matter of getting one [leopard] to step in 20cm squared within a home range of 80km squared!'

On Google Plus via +ScienceSunday first, then from the researcher +Erin Kane, I have discovered there are Diana monkeys.  With ‘a long tail that is often carried in a ‘question mark’ curve’. The Diana guenons live in the rainforests of West Africa. Classified as vulnerable, they are hunted for bushmeat. Their habitat carved up as human pressure grows.

The moon over Middelberg in the Cederberg Conservation Area 

Senegalese ecologist Baba Dioum: "In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

In September the weather was fierce winter, but the camera trap caught a Cape mountain leopard cub at Mied Se Berg.

Pictures by Jurg Studer and the CLT
text by Diana Studer
(also on Google Plus)
AKA Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. Those are my links)

17 comments:

  1. oh my gosh such an exciting post, exhilarating, so exotic and far divided from anything we see here and so beautifully written.
    Thank you for sharing this with us, your life is so in tune with Nature, the good and the bad,

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  2. "Jurg and the baboons grunting back and forth" - love the mental image that comment encourages :)

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  3. Lovely moon photo, and I'm amazed to see a leopard. Spring has been quite cool and wet here in my part of Canada. The gardens and ground are saturated with rain that fell yesterday.

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  4. So Baboons are just like people. Too bad about those Diana monkeys with their beautiful shiny fur coat. Is there no Diana monkey trust?

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    Replies
    1. there are some conservation areas for them, the researcher in the link is about to return for her next stint of observation.

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  5. How exciting! Those leopards are most impressive.

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  6. Wow! I love seeing photos of these animals in their natural habitat. I can only dream of how exciting it must be in person. To sit and chat with the baboons!

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  7. I love the moon and it is cold and wet here too. I read the latest newsletter that featured Jurg. Spot continues to elude them.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting to read the reasons why she IS so elusive!

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  8. I can't imagine being that close to wild baboons! The only baboons around here all talk on their cell phones while driving too fast. The landscape in your area is really striking. :o)

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  9. Fantastic photos. What a diverse world we all inhabit, and how interesting these insights are into the world of others. Thankyou.

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  10. The leopard project is such an exciting one. Pity there are those who feel nothing for them and go out to shoot them due to misconceptions.

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    1. The CLT appreciates the support and cooperation of farmers in the Cederberg Conservancy http://www.cederberg.co.za/

      In the Eastern Cape http://www.landmarkfoundation.org.za/map.html it would be the Landmark Foundation.

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  11. It must be really exciting to go on these trips. Such a great wilderness, the pictures seem to suggest the place is vast and rugged. The leopard shot is great, it must be very rewarding work!

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  12. Thank you, Diana. I like to know what's going on in our world's wild places. Gardens are often just a bit tame, without content such as yours..

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  13. Fantastic photos of the moon and the leopard, first visit, lovely post thx

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  14. Congratulations to the Studers and the Cape Leopard Trust: next - may you get it Spot-on! :) Jack

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Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.


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