An ambitious plan to film South Africa’s rarely sighted black leopards by installing 21 digital cameras with infrared sensors at strategic spots on some 40 Mpumalanga farms was launched recently. A 20-member expedition including natural history filmmaker Graham Wallington, eight of the country’s top animal trackers and members of the Mpumalanga Parks Board, will camp out for two weeks on a remote farm 40km northwest of Lydenburg to film the cats, which have never been photographed in the wild.
Apart from trying to film the black leopard, they would be studying the number of leopards living in the area. They will study their age and health so as to manage the animals better and make predictions on future leopard populations. Using the Internet, a leopard is being tracked by the team which was fitted with a satellite tracking collar and released into the wild on a mountain near Lydenburg. The project, will run into several hundred thousand rands, and is being funded by the Development Bank of South Africa and private individuals.