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Leopard Research
Part 2 - Camera Trap Pictures By Will Fox

Our main focus is leopard research on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve
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Some camera trap pictures of other predators, captured on our cameras
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Other animals
With such abundant Wildlife on the reserve our cameras pick up much more.
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Camera Traps

We have been using camera traps for over ten years to monitor Leopard movement and behavior. We build up ID kits for every leopard that we capture on camera. Each ID kit includes as many photographs as possible, plus the measurements and castings of their spoor. Using those ID kits as a baseline record we can accurately recognize any individual in subsequent pictures or spoor sightings, in order that we can build up a picture of that individuals behavior.

Everyone is different
The spot patterns and foot print of every leopard is different. This helps us to identify individuals

Our Camera Trap History

In the early days we used home made camera traps that were a normal point and shoot camera hooked up to a PIR detector from a domestic burglar alarm and a big battery all housed in an electrical junction box.

In 2007 we started experimenting with the trails cameras that were commercially available in the USA. After much trial and error we found the best options for us is quick trigger speed and low power usage. Trigger speed is the key to ensure we capture a passing leopard.

We have found the best cameras for our research, which combine fast trigger speed, with low power usage and low cost. Members of our camera club buy these new cameras to help our research, as well receiving photos from their camera.

A: Cape Fox
The Cape Fox is not normally found in our research zone. This rare photo is the first and only we have ever had of a Cape Fox

B: Honey Badger
Our cameras pick up Honey Badgers on a regular basis. You cant help but love these tenacious creatures. This one climbing in a tree to steel a leopards kill

C: Serval
We are starting to see more Serval on our camera traps then in previous years.

D: Brown Hyena
Another of the large predators we find in our research area. We seldom have a visual of a brownie, but do see their spoor quite often.

E: Genet
Another regular, that we pick up on camera traps.

F: Caracal
We see Caracal spoor more than actually photograph them. That may be because they are staying away from leopards.

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A: Kudu
We have a large population of Kudu on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve. Adults are normally too large for a leopard to take, unlike their claves.

B: Aardvark
Hardly ever seen but they do crop up on camera traps from time to time.

C: Impala
Abundant across South Africa, they are a staple diet for our Leopards and Caracal.

D: Bush Pig
Tenacious nocturnal visitors that are often photographed on a leopard kill.

E: Wart Hog
Very popular with leopards.

F: Nyala
Our research area is not the normal habitat for Nyala but they seem to do well, even though they are leopard prey.

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A: Zebra
As with Kudu the adults are too big for a leopard to normally take. But again the calves are vulnerable.

B: Spring Hare
Snack for a young leopard

C: Porcupine
Leopards tend to favour easier prey, but we have had leopards take Porcupine.

D: Baboon
We have some very large troops of Baboons. Although we have had one or two leopards that specialized in Baboons kills, those have been the exception to the rule.

E: Blue Wildebeest
Some say they were put together by committee.

F: Mellars Mongoose
A rare photograph of a Mellars Mongoose.

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Will Fox is Chairman on PAW Conservation Trust and CEO of On Track Safaris. Will has been contributing to Leopard Conservation since 2004 and as chairman of PAW is particularly involved with INGWE Leopard Research. With his wife Carol, Will formed On Track safaris in 2007 to support Leopard Research and provide a unique Safari experience for visitors to South Africa.