As you know, I’ve been going up to the Baviaanskloof as often as I can to follow the story of the endangered population of leopards that exist in the Cape Fold Mountain Belt. This has been in my head and heart for many years, but it was only recently that I’ve figured out exactly how to approach this project, and one month ago I was called up to assist in the tag and release of two captured leopards that you should know as Felicity and Scarface.
The first tag and release went incredibly smoothly and I fell in love from the moment that I held Felicity in my arms…and from that moment she became my new girlfriend, but that all seems to have blown up in my face. She’s been cheating on me with another man. This is Felicity’s new boyfriend…
I can’t say that I blame her – he’s a handsome young man. On our first trip up to the Baviaanskloof, we spent hours trying to find the spot where we thought that Felicity had hidden a kill based on the GPS coordinates of her collar. In our lengthy search, Jeannine McManus of the Landmark Foundation pointed out two different types of scat – one from Felicity, and one from a larger male – potentially her lover. This was exciting for us because it could indicate that they are mating and a litter of cubs might be on the way, but it was all speculation…until now.
At the same carcass that Felicity was frequenting, we got footage confirming that a male was in her territory and that there is a good chance that the two are mating! I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but this is incredibly exciting because we need these leopards to reproduce to keep their population numbers strong, so I really couldn’t be happier!
We’ve had a lot of updates on Felicity and everything is looking great from her side, but the flip-side of this coin is Scarface. We still have no information on him despite hours searching for him on the ground and in the air. We have to make sure that he is okay, so that will be one of the main goals of our next mission into the Baviaanskloof.
Hopefully we can also shed some light on Felicity and her new boyfriend, and whether or not we could be expecting some new characters to our story! Watch this space…
We still have to find a name for this guy, so your suggestions are welcome!