Leopards in the Soutpansberg Mountains

According to a recent study, the Soutpansberg Mountains in north-east South Africa are home to the densest leopard population outside a state protected area anywhere in Africa, with, on average, nearly 11 leopards per 100 square kilometres.  By comparison, there are just one to three leopards over the same area in the Cederberg and Waterberg Mountains.

Young female leopard.

Young female leopard.

Only state protected national parks, such as the Kruger National Park and Gabon’s Ivindo National Park support a greater density of leopards: the Sabie river area of the southern Kruger supports just over 30 of the animals per 100 square kilometres whilst the Ivindo supports 12.

The researchers believe one of the reasons the leopards have successfully made the Soutpansberg Mountains their home is because it supports one of their favourite prey, the bushbuck.

The study’s lead author, Dr Julia Chase Grey, said, “We now need long-term data on leopard densities over a larger area in the western Soutpansberg to confirm the conservation importance of the area.”

If the results are confirmed and the population persists, the area may, one day, become a recognised conservation area.

For the full story, please visit the Planet Earth Online web site.


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