In the Greater Kruger Area, South Africa, outside of formally protected areas, conservation research is more difficult when animals are elusive and/or nocturnal. This project aims to use camera traps to open up a whole world of possibilities for studying these amazing animals such as leopards, civets, wild cats and more. This will help us to understand more about their secretive lifestyles in order to more effectively conserve them in their natural habitats.
Populations of animals such as leopards, civets, wild cats and honey badgers are thought to be decreasing, yet no one actually knows for certain how many exist in the wild. Leopards alone are considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Without knowledge of their ecology, habitat preferences and population sizes, it is possible that these animals will begin to slip away without us even realizing.
This project will provide insight into the ecology, habitat preferences and population sizes of a wide variety of nocturnal and elusive species, focusing on leopards but including other nocturnal species. This will allow our researchers and interns to undertake their own projects, contribute towards conservation initiatives, expand the scientific knowledge base and supply information for effective management strategies in private reserves to allow for their long-term population permanence.
It is important that we focus on conservation efforts before animals enter the 'Threatened' categories on the IUCN Red List, as mitigating for a problem before it is encountered is more effective than last-minute risky conservation attempts. This project will increase the knowledge base available for leopards and other species, allowing for effective management strategies to be implemented and for information transfer to occur before it is too late to protect them.