The Leopard Project is in the Limpopo Heartland situated in southern Africa. The Heartland is spread over three countries: Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The work area chosen for the project is in the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas/communities in South Africa and Mozambique. For starts, the project is running at the N’wanetsi Concession (Popularly known as Singita Kruger National Park). The concession covers 15 000 hectares and is situated on the south central part on the eastern border with Mozambique.
The Lebombo Mountains run from north to south through the concession. The two main rivers, N’wanetsi and Sweni, also run through the concession with their confluence situated approximately 2.5 kilometres from the Mozambican border. The nearest community on the Mozambican side is in Mapulanguene, which is just 10 kilometres east of the border.
In order to measure the effectiveness of the project, Program Impact and Assessment (PIMA) was designed. To successfully implement PIMA in this project, I had to gather baseline data such as:
1. Identifying suitable habitats;
2. Surveying availability of suitable prey species;
3. Quantifying leopard numbers; and
4. Establishing contact with neighbouring communities.
So far I have managed to:
1. Identify suitable habitats with the help of the Singita’s well trained guiding and tracking teams;
2. Identify the availability of suitable prey species; and
3. Establish contact with Mapulanguene community.
I would like to thank Singita Kruger National Park for all the support in terms of the logistics, accommodation and giving us the opportunity to conduct this work.
Joining AWF in 2007, Nakedi is the latest addition to AWF's team of species researchers in Africa. Working in the Limpopo region, where he's from, Nakedi's studying the great cats to shape conservation strategies that will benefit communities he's known all his life. Looking at Nakedi's focus areas as a zoologist – Cytogenetics, Molecular Biology, and Geometric Morphometrics – it's easy to see he is serious about conservation. Leopards as a species especially interested him because they are both powerful and elusive – making it a challenge to study and protect them.
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