Celebrating International Leopard Day: FWF and Cape Leopard Trust Partnership Aids Leopard Conservation

In celebration of International Leopard Day on May 3, 2024, the Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) continues its unwavering support for the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) in its mission to preserve the Cape's leopard population and their habitats. This collaboration represents a shared commitment to wildlife conservation and sustainable community engagement in South Africa's Western Cape.

  • Ford Wildlife Foundation, and Cape Leopard Trust work together to promote human-predator coexistence and informed conservation practices, fostering a balance between leopard conservation and community well-being in the Western Cape
  • Cape Leopard Trust uses camera trapping to monitor leopard populations, informing conservation strategies and educational programs
  • Ford Wildlife Foundation provides support with a sponsored Ford Ranger, essential for fieldwork and outreach, along with ongoing vehicle maintenance

Since 2016, the Cape Leopard Trust has been part of the FWF family of projects, receiving consistent support that has made a significant impact on its work. Under the guidance of CEO Helen Turnbull, the organisation actively protects leopards and their habitats across the Western Cape.  FWF provides a locally produced Ford Ranger 4x4 to the Cape Leopard Trust, providing essential mobility to the research and monitoring teams, enabling them to reach the often remote and challenging terrains where leopards are found in the region. In addition to supplying the vehicle on loan for a period of two years, Ford and its dealer network provide ongoing maintenance and support.

As part of its ongoing research and monitoring efforts, the Cape Leopard Trust employs methods such as camera trapping, dietary analysis and social science to study leopards and their prey species. The resultant data provide crucial insights into leopard movement and habitat needs, population health, and diet. By working closely with landowners and stakeholders, the CLT promotes sustainable land management practices to maintain essential leopard habitats.

Dr Katy Williams, Research and Conservation Director at the Cape Leopard Trust, emphasises the critical role the FWF Ford Ranger plays in supporting the non-profit organisation’s work. “Researching leopards in the Cape is especially challenging due to the leopard's elusive nature and the challenging landscapes we work in. Fieldwork requires careful planning, dedication, rugged equipment and mobility. The Ford Ranger 4x4 provided by the Ford Wildlife Foundation is an essential component of every camera trap survey, making travel over large distances and rough terrain with heavy boxes of equipment possible. Results from camera trap surveys inform our conservation strategies and environmental education programmes, and through every camera trap survey we build positive relationships with communities living in leopard landscapes,” she says.

A vital part of the Cape Leopard Trust’s efforts extends to human-predator conflict mitigation programs that inform and support local farmers in implementing non-lethal predator management strategies. These initiatives help reduce conflicts and encourage peaceful coexistence between leopards and local communities.

Mitigating threats to leopards and their prey is an important focus for the Cape Leopard Trust. In partnership with several conservation partners, the Cape Leopard Trust launched the ‘Snare Free’ initiative to protect leopards and their prey from illegal trapping and poaching. This initiative includes a hotline for reporting emergencies and utilises one of the CLT’s own Ford Ranger vehicles for leading snare awareness workshops and snare removal patrols.

Lynda du Plessis expands on Dr William's sentiment about the positive impact of providing teams with the Built Ford Tough Ranger: “By providing the teams with a Ranger 4x4 we ensure they are better equipped to conserve leopard ecosystems in the Western Cape of South Africa”

For over 30 years, Ford South Africa has actively participated in wildlife and ecosystem conservation efforts in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.  The Ford Wildlife Foundation was established in 2014, and currently supports 28 projects across South Africa and one project in Mozambique. This comprises 17 conservation projects, seven research projects and five environmental education projects. For more information on the Ford Wildlife Foundation and its supported conservation projects, please click here: https://www.ford.co.za/about-ford/wildlife-foundation/