Our Leopards and the Cape Leopard Trust


Banghoekians whimsically refer to the leopards that walk the valley as “our” leopards, however, the Cape Leopard belongs to no-one and no specific area, having an extraordinary capacity to roam undetected over vast areas of farmland in the Cedarberg range.  How do we know they are here?  We see their spoor and their demarcating scats on the sand roads, especially in the eastern border of the Reserve where they use the sand tracks to access the Bavianskloof baboon area.  And we certainly hear their low growls and their distance calls early mornings which sound like someone sawing wood.

Image ref J. Hayward

The Cape leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is the same species as the bushveld leopard, but about half the size. They also have a much wider stalking range – 200 -1 000km² – compared to their savanna cousins who have a range of only 25 – 50km². They are opportunistic and adaptive hunters and target dassies, klipspringers, Cape grysbok and porcupines. Contrary to popular myth, farm animals are not on the menu except during food scarcity. And although they stalk the baboons of Banghoek, hunting is clearly less successful due to the awesome power and determination of male baboons to defend their troop – a single leopard standing not much chance against an organised attack by a group of alpha male baboons.  

Leopards are solitary and elusive. Over the years Banghoek has had two sets of mothers with two cubs each on the reserve but as soon as the cubs become adolescents the spoors become singular again. They are shy of people. There are no reports of attacks on people in the Western Cape, although it is difficult not to feel a little frisson of fright when encountering a leopard spoor or two on a sand track during an early morning walk…

The Cederberg Project of the Cape Leopard Trust does sterling work in documenting the Cape Leopard through research and camera surveys.  From time to time their volunteers have come to Banghoek to give us lectures on “this elusive ghost that walks among us”.  Each leopard has a unique set of spots which enable the Trust to identify and track individual leopards…

Watch this excellent 50/50 video of their work on YouTube

We would like to support them in any way we can.  They have asked us to help with cameras on the reserve, but in the past, we have not had the budget, a camera costing circa R3500. Hopefully in the future we can do some good work with them.  If you would like to get involved contact@capeleopard.org.zaHelen Turnbull, CEO | +27 (0)76 522 1201


All images Cape Leopard Trust

Banghoek Private Nature Reserve