Rheinmetall Denel Munition releases first leopard photos from Wellington site


Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has released the first pictures of the vulnerable Cape mountain leopard captured on cameras it donated to the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) for use at the defence manufacturer’s Wellington site.

The cameras are part of a partnership between the Cape Leopard Trust NGO and the defence manufacturer in the conservation of the Cape mountain leopard at the company’s Wellington site, RDM said. In the process, additional information has also been gleaned on other animal species in the area, resulting in scientists being able to further their work to protect vulnerable wildlife.

“The RDM Wellington site is situated within the Cape mountain leopard habitat and we decided to partner with CLT to promote the conservation of the local leopard population. We have donated two camera traps towards CLT’s applied research on leopards,” explained Ruby Maree, PR Manager at RDM.

The RDM facility is a 3 500 hectare site 23 km north of Wellington and is adjacent to the mountains, surrounded by mainly wheat farming activities.

The CLT is a non-governmental organisation involved in innovative research, conservation and education projects that facilitate and promote the conservation of biological diversity and rely on sponsorship and donations.

The Trust’s focus on environmental education builds bridges between landowners, farm workers and residents of the urban fringe so that they can take ownership of protecting the natural environment and biodiversity within their immediate area. The CLT facilitates and conducts research on predator ecology, human-wildlife conflict, as well as applicable broader faunal research.

The camera traps donated by RDM have for the first time captured footage of the Cape mountain leopard at the Wellington site.

Cape mountain leopards (Panthera pardus pardus) are much smaller – by about half the body mass – than those found elsewhere in Africa. On average, males weigh in at around 35 kg, and females weigh around 20 kg. Despite Cape mountain leopards being smaller than other leopards, their home ranges are actually much larger.

Male leopards in the Kruger National Park have a home range of 25 to 50 km², but the ranges of Cape mountain leopards are more than eight times that size, at between 200 and 1 000 km². Leopards in Africa are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, but leopards in the Cape are more threatened than other leopards because of urbanisation and limited suitable habitat.

Other interesting animals caught on the cameras include aardvark, bat-eared foxes and porcupines, all of which play an important role in the farming that continues to be the major industry in the vicinity.