iSimangaliso’s research and wildlife celebrities
Social and natural science research within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park forms a vital component of the Park’s reservoir of data, trends and information, assisting management functions within the World Heritage Site. At the end of 2016 there were 130 registered projects dealing with subjects across marine, terrestrial and social spheres.
One of these is the annual Panthera Leopard Survey run by Dr Guy Balme in collaboration with the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Wildlife ACT. Commencing in 2015, the fourth annual survey is well underway on the Eastern Shores section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The survey incorporates the use of camera traps located at strategic points and well-used ‘animal highways’ in the Park. Thousands of images are collected through the automatic triggering of the high quality, custom-built cameras which are placed on either side a road or track to obtain visuals of animals from both sides. Such material is extremely useful in revealing the unique patterns and characteristics of each animal, enabling researchers to accurately identify the individual animals and draw conclusions about behaviour and range.
According to iSimangaliso’s Manager Development and Planning, Nerosha Govender: “Although resilient in the face of human pressure, leopards have suffered a significant reduction in abundance and range. For such a ubiquitous species, remarkably little information exists on the demography and status of leopard populations. Such baseline data is critical to inform management activities and to evaluate the success of management decisions. This is part of the South African Leopard monitoring program, a joint venture between Panthera, SANBI, and provincial conservation authorities, which tracks the status of key leopard populations around the country in order to identify threats as well as to understand the drivers of leopard population change. The results from Panthera’s Leopard Project has already informed a number of policy changes that have benefitted the regional leopard population ensuring that viable populations of leopards are protected. The South African Leopard Monitoring Project continues to fulfil its mandate to provide robust data on leopard population density and trends, which will inform conservation policy and management.”
So, if you’ve seen one of these cameras attached to a pole or tree and wondered what it is for – it’s a vital piece of monitoring equipment that helps us to learn more about our Park and its residents!
For media enquiries and photographs contact Slie Msweli on +27 79 6320 363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.