With the support of a Rufford Small Grant in 2004, the work of Quinton Martins at the Cape Leopard Trust has evolved from the dreams of one man wandering around the Cederberg Mountains into a credible, fully-fledged NGO with three regional projects and several exciting new sub-projects.
Their quest, ultimately, is to ensure the survival of the remaining population of leopards in the Cape mountain region. Following Quinton's success in initiating a rigorous scientific study in the Cederberg (now contributing towards a Doctoral thesis), two sister projects were initiated in the early part of 2008. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) provided funding for the Namaqualand Uplands Project, which is being conducted in close collaboration with Conservation International (CI), SANParks and Northern Cape Nature Conservation (NCNC). The third project is based in the Gouritz Corridor and is being managed in partnership with CapeNature, the conservation authority in the area.
How to ID a leopard using camera trap photographs.
The capture and collaring process of a leopard.
All three projects are contributing invaluable information in respect of leopard ecology - and from this, they are now able to formulate holistic conservation strategies based on credible scientific facts. They have also recognized the critical importance of educating people (farmers, communities, school children and interest groups) on the socio-economic importance of maintaining a sustainable ecosystem, using the leopard as an iconic indicator of ecosystem health.