Leopard activity continues on FNB W2W MTB routes 


Words: Newsport Media | Photo: CLT Boland Project

Recent photographs released by The Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) Boland Project indicate that adult male Scott (BM12), adult male, Popeye (BM17) and adult female, Olive (BF14) are still regular visitors to the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) routes.

In 2011 the organizers of the FNB W2W MTB events donated five digital camera traps to the CLT Boland Project. According to Jeannie Hayward of the CLT Boland Project the FNB W2W cameras act like “permanent fieldworkers”, recording animal movement day and night, rain or shine. “Placing these cameras along the FNB W2W routes gave the Boland Project the opportunity to survey new locations within the study area, not only for leopard activity but also for the presence of other nocturnal and shy mammals like the Honey Badger, Cape Fox and Genet. We visit the cameras every three months to put in fresh batteries and swap memory cards. Opening a memory card is like opening a lucky packet. We always go through the photos in great anticipation – just waiting for that familiar form of a large spotted cat to pop up on the screen. Over the past 3 ½ years we have literally seen hundreds of leopard photos, but it never gets old. Leopard photos are ideal research tools, since each individual leopard has a unique rosette pattern on either side of its body. We can therefore create “identikits” for every leopard and in this way estimate the number of leopards in an area and also study their movements,” says Hayward.

“We are very positive about our association with the FNB W2W,” says Anita Meyer the CLT Boland Project. “Although leopards roam widely and are very adept at moving around in their rugged mountain habitat, they often utilize trails and roads – especially the males who need to regularly patrol and mark their large territories. The network of gravel roads and single tracks utilized by mountain bikers thus also serve as “highways” for leopard patrols. Most people living in and visiting the Boland area still don’t realize that there are wild leopards roaming free in the mountains right on their doorstep. We hope that the leopard photos obtained along the FNB W2W routes have made many mountain bikers appreciate the fact that they share their mountain playground with such an elusive, magnificent creature”.

FNB W2W MTB Adventure, Ride and Race:

Starting in the Winelands of Somerset West, teams of two riders (male/female/mixed) will cross through (and over) 13 wineries, 26 private farms, six mountains, historic roads and mountain passes, nature conservation areas (including the Kogelberg Biosphere) before finishing within sight of the famous whales of Hermanus!

· FNB WINES2WHALES MTB adventure: Friday, 01 November 2013 until Sunday, 03 November 2013
· FNB WINES2WHALES MTB ride: Monday, 04 November 2013 until Wednesday, 06 November 2013
· FNB WINES2WHALES MTB race: Friday, 08 November 2013 until Sunday, 10 November 2013

Stage one:

Distance: 70km
Start: Lourensford Wine Estate (Somerset West)
Finish: Oak Valley Sport Field (Elgin)

Stage two:

Distance: 70km
Start: Oak Valley Sport Field (Elgin)
Finish: Oak Valley Sport Field (Elgin)

Stage three:

Distance: 75km
Start: Oak Valley Sport Field (Elgin)
Finish: Onrus Caravan Park (just outside Hermanus)

The Official Food Supplier of the FNB W2W MTB events, Food Lover’s Market is known for placing great emphasis on value, quality and an exceptional retail experience. At the FNB W2W MTB events Food Lover’s Market will be meeting all the essential food requirements of the riders over the three day period both on route and in the race village.

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For more information on the Cape Leopard and the work of The Cape Leopard Trust Boland Project, go to www.capeleopard.org.za or www.facebook.com/capeleopard. For more information on the FNB Wines2Whales MTB events contact 076 118 0874, e-mail or visit www.wines2whales.co.za