Meet Jasmine, a potential supermom.

By John Power

The capture and translocation of offending leopards is a common practice in South Africa and without satellite collaring them, one has no way of appraising the success of such actions. 

In the middle of 2021, a young female leopard (2-3 years) was captured in a trap cage in the Dwarsberg area of the North West Province, and the authorities there considered her release in their neighbouring province – Gauteng’s Dinokeng Game Reserve.

We came to consensus that success might be achievable on our reserve owing to the very low density here. This female was kept in temporary captivity at De Wildt for about a month, then we collected her, named her Jasmine, satellite collared her, and released her after 5 months in a boma on the reserve. 

While adjudicating another permit request for another leopard to come to us, GDARD (Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) engaged with North West, over examining how successful other leopards had been there before, and from this exercise, and they incidentally noticed that this female had in fact been a successful translocation. 

North West scientific services took the data and did a break-down of the satellite collar movement data into monthly time periods, and examined the successive monthly overlap against the previous month, and also looked at when asymptotic home-range had been achieved.

Jasmine wandered about as they usually do, then after 5 months began concentrating her activities along the Pienaars river, from whence she reached an asymptotic home-range by 6 months, suggesting home-range stability and she reached an asymptotic home-range where the home-range size stabilises. 

Beyond this, the ultimate gauge of success was evidenced by her with a single cub captured on via a camera trap in November 2022. 

This young female was translocated from the Dwarsberg mountains, north-west of Pilanesberg (NW), and was relatively young, which is suitable for reintroduction.

Other than her age, which was appropriate for translocation (i.e subadult), the long period of boma confinement (i.e 5 months), may have also contributed to her success by eliminating a homing tendency (Briers-Louw et al. 2019; Power et al. 2021).

What was once an alleged DCA has been converted into a positive in that the leopard has not only survived, but has since settled into a home-range and given birth to a cub in November 2022, and she has been given a chance to be a leopard, and contribute to a population.

To date there are few examples of successful releases of DCA leopards (only orphaned and confiscated ones, see Power et al. 2021). This information will be utilized in a meta-analysis of translocation success of North West Province originating leopards, and we will collaborate with them, as well as with GDARD on this.

Success is something that has been debated a lot and there are various criteria, such as survival up until a year (Hayward et al. 2007; Weise et al. 2015), until range establishment (Briers-Louw et al. 2019; Power et al. 2021), and more recently a cut-off to 6 months has been considered a more realistic gauge to measure translocation success (McManus et al. 2022). Given this female established a range, reproduced and survived beyond 6 months after release, can surely be seen as a successful translocation. 

Her success is related to the fact that this female was young, which has been the case with other successful translocations of them (see Weise et al. 2015; Briers-Louw et al. 2019), while it can be surmised that the Dinokeng area is unsaturated with leopard, and can accommodate others. However, there may be snaring problems, which could work against this in the future, but we are committed to eradicating this threat!

All in all, this was a successful translocation of what could have been a nuisance ‘problem animal’ in the North West, to at least an appreciated animal in a protected reserve in our province. The North West officials showed good judgment in considering Dinokeng Game Reserve as a release site, while they reckoned we did very well in managing the whole process, which included boma keeping, monitoring, and protection, which all led to Jasmine’s success.

Unlike some of the captive-bred leopard we have released, this wild subadult female had successfully established herself against a lot of odds, and we hope she can spread her genes in the reserve going forward!

We thank the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre for housing this female leopard for a month, we thank Petro Van Eeden and her team.

We thank Dr Caldwell for doing the immobilization and veterinary checks on the said female leopard.

We thank Mr Kevin Richardson for chronicling the event when we captured her, and general support.

We thank the North West provincial conservation authorities, in particular Ms Vasti Botha and John Power.

More Posts

Celebrate Easter Weekend Safely at Dinokeng Game Reserve

As Easter approaches, Dinokeng Game Reserve eagerly anticipates welcoming visitors for a rejuvenating long weekend in nature. However, with an expected surge in visitors during this holiday period, it’s imperative for all guests to observe the reserve’s rules and regulations, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Read More »

Goodbye, Rietvlei

Today, we bid farewell to a true legend of Dinokeng Game Reserve. With heavy hearts, we remember the remarkable life of Rietvlei, affectionately known as the Super Mom, who peacefully passed away on 6/02/2024. Although we are still awaiting lab results

Read More »

Aviation in Conservation

Aviation plays a crucial role in the conservation efforts of Dinokeng Game Reserve, where the management of a sprawling 20,000-hectare expanse of diverse wildlife demands constant vigilance. To effectively oversee the well-being of priority species within the reserve, the Dinokeng

Read More »