Translocating Problem Leopards is an Option, If You Plan for It

N/a'an ku se researcher Stuart Munro preps telemetry equipment to track the translocated leopard, Lightning. (Photograph: Joseph Lemeris Jr)

Post Submitted by Joseph Lemeris.

It’s daybreak, near the edge of the Namib Desert in Namibia. We step out of a dusty Land Rover with our cameras, binoculars, and radio-telemetry equipment, and head straight up one of the numerous mountain ridges which surround us on all sides. The morning sun casts a stunning glow on the landscape, making the rigorous trek beautiful as well.

N/a’an ku se researcher Stuart Munro preps telemetry equipment to track the translocated leopard, Lightning. (Photograph: Joseph Lemeris Jr)

When we reach the top, we scan our antenna across the horizon, listening for the faint but distinct ‘click-click’ from the receiver. After several passes, we hear it – coming from the southwest. Looking out, we see a seemingly vacant landscape; the dry season vegetation sparse except for one dense tract running tightly along a perennial riverbed. We all agree the clicking is likely pointing us to that riverbed, where we hope to find what we are looking for: Lightning, one of the N/a’an ku se Foundation’s most successful translocated leopards.

N/a’an ku se researcher Stuart Munro preps telemetry equipment to track the translocated leopard, Lightning. (Photograph: Joseph Lemeris Jr)

The use of translocation as a tool to curb human-carnivore conflict has come under scrutiny in recent years, and rightly so: if not performed under near-perfect conditions, a host of issues can arise for both the animal and the landowners requesting its removal. Not only can translocation present dangers for the animal (including competition from resident carnivores, lack of prey, and injury during translocation), but it may actually contribute to further livestock loss by the landowner over the long-term, drawing new leopards in to fill the vacant range.

N/a’an ku se’ head of research, Florian Weise (two-time Big Cats Initiative grant recipient), recognized these problems with translocation operations, but saw —> Read More

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