So Cape Nature is at it again, threatening the life of a leopard. They are planning to remove a leopard for catching penguins in Betty’s Bay, Western Cape!

Please click on this link if you are not sure what or who CapeNature is….

This is again a disgraceful action by this conservation agency! What is a leopard suppose to do?

I urge you to please send in your objections to
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.

We have been agitating since last week to prevent the demise or removal of a leopard in Betty’s Bay. A flurry of press releases by CapeNature have been aimed at damage control and to deny them wanting to remove the leopard. We had three people connected to CapeNature and 2 academics confirm that discussion are advanced to have the leopard removed and that their monitoring is merely trying to justify this seeming eventuality. Anticipating negative media, the organization has applied spin about how they are “monitoring” the situation. This has centered around demonizing the leopard (habitual penguin killer/ a juvenile dispersal cat/an incomer) and getting bird enthusiasts to agitate for the support of the protection of the penguins in preference to the leopard.

We must mobilize an outcry before CapeNature again threatens a leopard in the region. Please contact their CEO to object to the leopard being removed.

We have offered assistance to have the leopard GPS collared to enable mitigation of threats to the colony (which is imminently possible), but yet again we have been arrogantly dismissed.

1. It is not unusual to have leopard populate habited places likes Betty’s Bay. In fact we have demonstrated this through our leopard project where we have GPS 32 collared leopards, and hundreds of thousands of hours of camera trap surveyed coverage in the Western, Eastern and Northern Capes. Leopards live happily and undetected in these areas and in towns like Betty’s Bay, Hermanus, Greyton, McGregor, Riversdale, George, Wilderness, Knysna and PE where we have often seen them operating close to houses. The Bettys Bay area (Cape Hangklip, Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Somerset West) and all along the Boland chain this is common. They pose no threat to people in these settings. Only dense urbanization, habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict restrict their mobility.

2. We have just submitted for publication a paper where we analyzed the leopard densities in the Eastern and Western Cape having collected data from the 32 collared leopards and extensive camera trap surveys between PE and Cape Town and inland areas. It is shown that we reliably estimate the adult leopard population between 500 -750 in these two provinces. The problem being that this total is further isolated into smaller meta-populations that have (also through a peer reviewed study) demonstrated genetic bottle necking of these isolated populations. The isolation is caused by habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict. Based on this, the leopard populations are critically endangered in these provinces and continue to be hammered by human wildlife conflict. Only 2 weeks ago a leopard died in a gin trap in the Koo valley, at the hands of CapeNature!

3. Leopards are ultimate opportunists and if vulnerability and availability coincide they will take any food source. Thus they are known to take birds of all sorts, and though there are few land-based penguin colonies it is not inconceivable that they would prey on them when available. (Jackass penguins mostly nest on offshore islands.) The only unusual thing here is that we have a partially fenced colony which in itself is unnatural and thus we are not surprised that the leopard took some of these birds. It is bizarre beyond belief that this is now considered unusual behavior and termed a habitual penguin killer. We have now had 3 people connected with CapeNature whistle blowing to us that they want to remove the leopard for this natural behavior and that they are currently constructing the case to justify this. That is outrageous and completely unacceptable. This is completely natural behavior of the leopard and the fact that CapeNature is trying to remove this leopard from its natural habitat should cause public outrage. We will definitely, and have mounted a concerted effort to stop this crazy logic. In fact, it is lunacy, but not surprising from an organization that is known to be the most prolific killer of leopards in the province. We have repeatedly offered to assist them in trying to protect leopards in general and this one in particular, and advised them to rather protect the colony through fencing, guarding and deterrents. If they want unnatural penguin colonies (in effect a zoo) they need to protect them by building fences and deterring the cat, and not removing naturally occurring predators that are only doing what they are designed to do. This kind of attitude reflects the ingrained antithesis to carnivores by conservation entities such as CapeNature, that are completely unaccountable to their mandated actions.

4. Penguins evolved to nest on islands precisely due to the fact that they are not adapted to withstand land-based predators. Penguins landed at Betty’s Bay and Boulders in Simonstown in the 1980s and survived due to the effect of the human barrier protection offered by fences and development, and have made these colonies effectively zoo-like settings. It is inconceivable that CapeNature is resorting to retributive actions on this leopard who, in its natural environment, is doing what it has evolved to do.

4. The killing of 33 penguins is a known behavior by leopards (and Caracals) that we call “surplus killings”. It is exceedingly rare and the fact that it did so once does not mean, and has never been proven to, that it will do it again. It happens in unnatural settings when prey species are confined, defenseless and cause over stimulation of the cat. Jackass penguins do not naturally colonize mainland areas.

5. This is not a clash of threatened species priorities. This is a clash between people and their worldviews, it is largely a demonstration of a conservation organization rather at odds with its mandate.

Leopards are critically endangered in the region. The penguins are artificially being kept on a partially fenced areas due to their fish sources being over-fished. Manage the latter, and manage the zoo you have created! Don’t threaten completely natural behaving carnivores operating normally in its own natural habitat.

If CapeNature are so concerned, they should get guards and fence your area, and not just jump at removing leopards behaving normally.

Have we all gone mad?

Please send your objections to CapeNature CEO:
Dr Razeena Omar
CEO | CapeNature
tel +27 21 483 0001 | fax 086 532 8013 | cell +27 82 7707079
email | postal Private Bag x29 Gatesville 7766
physical PGWC Shared Services Centre cnr Bosduif & Volstruis Streets Bridgetown 7764

Photo credit: Van As van Graan: Pictures of the leopard being targeted.

I urge you to please send in your objections to
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.