|A photo Anton and Emma took on the game farm|
I’d like to take a short break from engineering, marketing and all other serious topics and share a little about my experience living in rural South Africa. I live in a farming community deep in the Mpumalanga Lowveld amidst beautiful mountains in a valley full of citrus orchards. Just around the corner however, is the base of the Ingwe Leopard Project.
|Anton with a Cheetah at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center|
Friends of mine, conservationists Emma and Anton are researchers who are leading the effort to stabalise leopard population numbers in the area. Apart from tracking leopard behavior, they run an education program for farmers who kill leopards thinking them menaces. I spent the weekend with them and their current volunteer house sitting the luxury tented Black Leopard Camp.
|The luxurious Black Leopard Camp-nestled deep in the mountains and accessed only by special off-road vehicles|
The weekend started off with arriving at the carcas of a wildebeest that Anton had shot. The animal had a hernia and was suffering quite a lot. Also, in the same area, a leopard had recently given birth to three adorable cubs. Anton hoped that the kill would increase the chances of the cubs surviving. Just one in 6 leopard cubs survive to adulthood and the mother will leave them for days on end in order to find food.
|Daniel, the Brazilian volunteer gutting the wildebeest to make the smell more noticable to the leopard-mother|
We took a few fillets for supper, which was spent around a roaring fire at the bar.
Saturday was spent hiking a mountain to scout leopard activity and place GPS coordinates on the far corner of the park. This tiresome task took about 5 hours (and did I mention involved climbing a mountain?) but the exercise was great. We saw a number of animals and birds and the view was spectacular! I’ll post the pictures at some point.
We discovered that that area of the park had very little leopard activity, which was useful anyway. The work that Ingwe have done is truly amazing. Their camera traps have aided in tracking the local leopards that inhabit the area and their research will help to conservation planning, especially in farming communities in other places. Their volunteer program allows conservation-enthusiasts from all over the world the chance to experience South African conservation first-hand. Currently, Daniel from Brazil-a jaguar-conservationist from Brazil is at Ingwe.
More information on their website: Ingwe website