Quinton Martins, the founder and project manager of the Cape Leopard Trust, that promotes and protects the Cape Leopard population. It took seven long hard years but Quinton’s persistence paid off when he found he could photograph a pair of newborn cubs – believed to be the first for the
The discovery he explained was hugely significant, he explained because it has allowed him and fellow researchers to document the maternal behavior of the threatened leopards in the Cederberg Mountains. The ecology and habits of these morphologically distinct leopards, who on average weigh less than half of their counterparts , in the bushveld and Botswana. This discovery would, hopefully, lead to a more detailed understanding of these beautiful leopards.
Quinton explained that the movements of a female Cederberg leopard, formally known as F10 but affectionately called Spot had been monitored for 19 months via her high-tech GPS radio collar. By studying data from the collar; he and his team had been able to determine her feeding habits, home range, movement and activity.
The data had shown that she had mated with a male leopard M6 or Max in September. Quinton assumed she may be pregnant and his team searched day and night but there was simply no sign of her. Having a gut feeling that she had given birth he was desperate to find her. Eventually on the 12th of January he got a feint signal from her collar.
Analysis of the data suggested that Spot had established a den site and that two cubs had been born five days earlier on the 7th January. But it was important not to disturb the mother. He used the GPS collar to guide us in knowing that Spot had moved from the den to forage far from the area. While Spot was away Quinton took the opportunity to climb down to see if I could locate the site. After an intensive 20-minute search on hands and knees he eventually found the den in Cape Reeds behind some boulders.
He found two cubs lying cuddled together in a grassy ‘nest’. Their eyes were still closed and they seemed so small and helpless. Quinton took a few quick photos before making a hasty retreat.
The team have been monitoring the family and last month found signs that at least one cub was alive and managed to photograph it with Spot.
The Cape Leopard Trust works with statuary conservation authority CaopNature and has reasearch projects in the Cederberg, Gouritz Corridor, Namaquland and Boland Mountains.
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