Monday, January 12, 2015

Brandy the Leopard

Brandy the much publicised female leopard has been the subject of research by the North West Province’s conservation department’s ecologist, John Power, for the last two years. Brandy remains one of the few free roaming leopards in South Africa’s Magaliesberg Mountains, hence the reason for the department’s endeavour to keep her monitored and protected. The findings from such a study can have significant impact on the success of free roaming leopard in other more developed parts of Africa too. Although the project has been predominantly state funded, some aspects have required private funding, owing to a constrained fiscus. C4 Photo Safaris has been a proud sponsor of the leopard project collars, and this has allowed the department to monitor the progress and movement of Brandy on a day to day basis.
In September 2014 John noticed that Brandy’s signal had remained static for a few days, so he and his team set off to investigate why this was so – mindful that this was concerning. Sadly they found that Brandy had been captured in a snare and was severely injured. John and his team snapped straight into action, and found that due to the rugged terrain they could not drive up to her, and it was also too dangerous to approach her on foot, so they opted to dart her from the air via a hovering helicopter. Afterwards, while immobilised, her wounds were flushed, and she was subsequently airlifted to Johannesburg from whence she was stabilised for a fortnight. It is thanks to the satellite collar that this was all possible. After extensive medical attention from at least three veterinarians at the Joburg Zoo, she was released back into the Magaliesberg in a much improved physical condition. This was such that she could have the chance to rear her cubs – as X-rays revealed three cubs!
For a few months afterwards there was no sign of denning behaviour, until the middle of November 2014, when camera traps were placed at a suspected den – and a few days later – one cub was revealed! This was great success in that considering the ordeal that she had been through, she was still able to reproduce, which is the gauge of success for any conservation efforts. The department’s conservation efforts are visible through Brandy’s remarkable comeback. This is a significant addition of genetic material as well as valuable scientific data that is being received firm Brandy and for the somewhat dwindling free roaming leopard population in parts of South Africa. This is one step towards saving the leopards of the Magaliesberg and maintaining the populations of free roaming leopards in Africa as a whole. Well done to the department and the team for their positive impact n wildlife conservation as a whole. C4 Photo Safaris is very happy to help with initiatives that have such a positive conservation result. Since C4 Photo Safaris ultimately benefits from the photographic appeal of leopards in many of Africa’s game reserves, we see his as an opportunity to give back to leopards that are in trouble in the more disturbed parts of the continent – such as the outskirts of the metropolis of Johannesburg, which is where the Magaliesberg is situated.
We look forward to watching the developments of Brandy and her cub over the months and years and also look forward to further sponsoring of more collars for this and other projects.

Magaliesberg Biosphere, blue dots indicate Brandy's location

Brandy's static location loured the team out for investigation

Searching for Brandy
Darting injured Brandy

Stabilising injured Brandy
Loading Brandy into a cage for medical attention
The release of Brandy after her wound from the snare had been treated
Brandy's wound has healed but the scar is still visible

Brandy's cub

Images Supplied by John Power

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