Earlier in April scientists sent out a warning that the leopard population in the Soutpansberg region could be wiped out within a few years.
The research, as published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, states that illegal killings are behind this tragedy. The leopard population has been reduced by two third over the last ten years. What’s even more tragic is the fact that this specific region once had one of the largest leopard populations in Africa.
In the hopes of fighting the killings, the SA government stopped trophy hunting last year. According to experts, this move won’t help as trophy hunting is not one of the main reasons why the leopard is dying out.
During a 2008 study, it was found that there were 11 adult leopards in every 100km² in the Soutpansberg region.
To see how things have gone since, a team set up motion detection cameras and left them in the region from 2012 to 2016. Only 65 different cats were spotted.
Of the eight leopard fitted with GPS collars, only two survived the period. Two went missing without trace, three were caught by traps and one was shot by a local after the leopard attacked his cattle.
At least this bad news led to some good news. Because of these shocking figures, conservationists and officials were able to raise enough money to hire a person to engage with the local community. The engagement officer hopes to teach inhabitant of the Southpansberg region how to keep leopards away from cattle without killing them.