The INGWE Leopard Research program is an independent not for profit research organisation, operating under the auspice of the On Track Foundation (a UK registered charitable organisation).
More information can be found via the following website www.ontracksfoundation.org
In ecosystems around the world, the decline of large predators is changing the face of landscapes from the tropics to the Arctic – but an analysis of 31 carnivore species shows how threats such as habitat loss, persecution by humans and loss of prey combine to create global hotspots of carnivore decline.
More than 75 percent of the 31 large-carnivore species are declining, and 17 species now occupy less than half of their former ranges.
With some exceptions, large carnivores have already been exterminated from much of the developed world, including Western Europe and the eastern United States.
Globally, we are losing our large carnivores and many of them are endangered primarily due to their ranges collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally. Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects.
The classic concept that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated.
Scientists and wildlife managers need to recognise a growing body of evidence for the complex roles that carnivores play in ecosystems and for their social and economic benefits.
Human tolerance of these species is a major issue for conservation.
The INGWE Leopard Research program has been researching leopard density and populations primarily within South Africa for over ten years. During this period we have developed scientific research techniques which have been recognised as providing much needed data to provincial authorities and other research institutes and scientists. We are now expanding our research operations. The main aim of this research is to identify the status of leopards.
Leopards (Panthera pardus) are widely distributed across the globe, with populations across sub-Saharan Africa and much of Southern Asia, found in India, China and Russia. Within Africa they are the last of the big five species living outside of protected areas.
Leopards are extremely capable hunters taking a wide range of prey; with studies finding 30 different prey species in scat analysis (Estes.R.D 1999) ranging from small insects to large ungulates. Despite this however, the leopard population is in decline. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation) last assessed the leopard population in 2008 and classified it as near threatened compared to 2002 where they were classified as least concern. Within Africa alone it is estimated that around 35% of the leopards original home range, over the last ten years, has been lost; especially in areas of South Africa and Namibia (Ray et al 2005).
Leopards are threatened both directly and indirectly.
Outside of protected areas leopards are threatened by a number of issues. Illegal prosecution of leopards by livestock owners and illegal hunting is responsible for the deaths of many leopards through out South Africa, with studies showing at least 28 leopards in the Cape Mountains alone killed by gin traps in only 3 years (Hunter. L. 2010).
The mortality rate is then also increased indirectly as a result of this.
The number of male leopards that are at risk of being killed at the hand of man is far greater than the number of female (Blame G. and Hunter L. 2004) due to their larger home ranges which increases the chance of them leaving protected areas and roaming farmlands. Many species that show infanticide, as the leopard (Panthera pardus) does, have lower reproductive rates when there is high male mortality rate, hence high male turnover in an area (C.Paker et al 2009). This is due to the fact that dominant males are not around to protect their offspring from intruding males who will commit infanticide so fewer cubs survive to adulthood.
Unknown numbers of leopard are also killed by other human influences for example road kills.
Due to this increasing human conflict it is important to therefore study the density and status of the leopard outside of protected areas, an area of research that currently lacks quantifiable data.
Dr Tara Pirie
Dr Tara Pirie has been leading our leopard research program on the Thaba Tholo wilderness reserve 2012-2015. During that period, Tara conducted research into leopard behaviour and dynamics within the reserve as part of her Phd from Reading University in the United Kingdom. Tara was the inspiration for our very successful Camera Trapper program. As a senior member of the INGWE leopard research team Tara continues to be involved in our work in a consultancy role for our research programs.
RESEARCHER - Carys Palmer BSc (Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve)
Carys Palmer co-ordinates our research in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, South Africa. Carys studied BSc Zoology at Reading University in the UK, which included a range of subjects such as behavioural ecology, anatomy and physiology, and conservation biology. As part of her degree, she travelled to Madagascar in the summer of 2013, to assist with research into the conservation of the islands wildlife. It was during this time that Carys further developed a passion for wildlife conservation. During the summer of 2014, she spent six weeks on Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve collecting data for her final year dissertation, which focused on the importance and conservation of leopards in unprotected areas of Southern Africa. After graduating in July 2015, Carys was thrilled to return to Thaba Tholo to join the INGWE Leopard Research team and contribute to the efforts of the team in protecting Africa's leopards.
My name is Gabi and I am a third year BSc(Agri & Env) student at McGill University, studying Wildlife Biology. After volunteering with INGWE for two months in summer 2015, I realized just how much data had been collected and was waiting to be analyzed. So during my final year I will be studying the spatial and temporal distribution of Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) as well as their abundance in the reserve. So little is known about this elusive mammal that hopefully this research will shed light on their behaviour which in turn could be used in future conservation efforts.
INGWE in Thailand
Luke Stokes has lived in Thailand for over ten years and is supporting wildlife conservation research programs in Thailand’s National Parks. Luke specialises in camera trapping research and has recently joined the INGWE research team to lead our Thailand research project.
INGWE Leopard Research is extending its research network with three objectives:
Camera Trappers gives you the opportunity to be part of our team and to stay connected with wildlife in the African bush from wherever you live in the world. Not only will you be connected with Africa but you will also be supporting vital wildlife research aimed at conserving leopard numbers and other species. Join the On Track team of camera trappers and be part of our team.
So how does it work? As a Camera Trapper we value your contribution to our work and keep you up to date with our progress. Each month you will receive some of the best pictures from the camera traps that you are helping to fund, placed in the African bush.
Our leopard research team utilise an extensive network of camera traps placed on game reserves, but we need more cameras and to be able to maintain and service the existing stock. By increasing the number of cameras we can increase our research areas and collect more data to be able to provide sufficient information to model leopard behaviour and numbers.
By joining On Track Camera Trappers program you will be actively supporting INGWE Leopard Research, as well as enjoying some amazing wildlife pictures sent to you each month.
What is a camera trap? Camera traps are digital cameras that are set out along game trails in remote locations within our various research sites. These camera traps are triggered by movement and operate 24 x 7, secretly recording the movement of animals in the bush and recording their behaviour without need for human presence or disruption of nature.
Why do you use camera traps? We use the camera trap images to identify individual leopards from their unique coat patterns. Each leopards coat pattern (spots and rosettes) is just like a finger print i.e. unique to each individual. We have created identification kits (a series of photographs of each known leopard taken from various angles and sides) and it is by comparing the camera trap images to these ID kits, that we can determine if it is a known leopard and where and when it was located. In this way we can build up a picture of leopard movement, density and behaviour that is previously unknown.
Of-course we don’t just get images of leopards any and all wildlife species that pass the cameras are pictures. From Antelope to Monkeys and Predators to birds.
This information can then be shared with governing bodies to assist them in credible and accurate decision making for the welfare of the species, as well as Universities.
Camera Trapper Annual membership £60 or $90
As a camera trapper member you will receive some of the best photographs taken by our cameras across several game reserves each month.
To become a Camera Trapper simply make payment by bank transfer or using a credit or debit card via Paypal. Please ensure that when paying via Paypal, you add your contact details when ordering, or alternately if paying via bank transfer please use your surname as the reference.
Once we receive payment then you will receive a confirmation email and thereafter our research team will place your camera out in the African bush at one of our research reserves. We will then be in touch to let you know to expect a monthly email with the best pictures from your camera.
If you wish to purchase a camera trapper membership as a gift, then simply order as above, then let us know and we’ll send you a gift certificate and also register the associated members contact details.
Just click the Pay Now button below to make payment by credit card via PayPal, or if you prefer to pay via bank transfer then use the Lloyds bank details shown.
On Track Safaris operates the On Track Camera Trappers program in support of INGWE Leopard Research.
All camera traps are the property of On Track Safaris and that company shall hold the copyrights for all photographs, which may not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Please note, there is no guarantee as to the amount of pictures the camera will take or be sent, however 20-40 photographs is the average.
We will endeavour to send you images every month, however if for operational reasons we are unable to send images in any particular month then you will not miss out we will catch you up as soon as we can.
The use of the camera shall remain the sole responsibility of the Ingwe Leopard Research for whatever purpose deemed necessary.
Once a donation is received you will receive an email from the On Track Camera Trappers team to confirm membership. If you do not receive this notification within 10 working days of donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Camera Trappers membership is valid for 1 year from the date of the first picture taken with the camera. At the end of the year the membership can be renewed.
Only cameras recommended by the Ingwe Leopard Research will be entered into the scheme.
By donating to join On Track Camera Trappers you are agreeing to the terms and conditions herein.