Western Cape - A leopard was killed in a collision with a vehicle on Tuesday April 25, on the N7 about 10km outside Clanwilliam. It's believed the animal was struck before 7am, when it was still fairly dark outside.
The Western Cape Nature Conservation Board ( CapeNature) - responsible for maintaining wilderness areas and public nature reserves in the province - was notified of the incident around 7.45am, but by the time they got there at 8.30am, the carcass had already been removed.
The Cape Leopard Trust Cederberg team had visited the site with the intention of taking various morphometric measurements (the m easurement of external form), samples and photos for research purposes, after which the carcass would have been transported to CapeNature's Scientific Services facility for inclusion in the SA Museum collection.
The organisation said it is illegal to take or transport a leopard carcass or any parts thereof without a permit. The person(s) who took the carcass will not be charged or prosecuted, but it was important to retrieve the carcass for research purposes.
"From photos taken of the carcass while it was still there, it is clear that this was an adult male leopard. Leopards being hit and killed by vehicles is fortunately not a very regular occurrence in the Western Cape - although this is the second such incident this year," CapeNature said.
"We would therefore like to draw attention once again to the possibility that it can – and does – happen, and every time it does it is an unnecessary loss of life.
"Almost all incidents happen at night, including dusk and dawn, on mountain passes and roads going through mountainous terrain. Leopards have been hit by vehicles on Piekenierskloof pass south of Citrusdal, Michell’s Pass outside Ceres, Bainskloof, the N1 through Du Toitskloof, Franschhoek pass and on the R44 coastal road between Gordons Bay and Rooiels.
"We would like to extend a call to action to all motorists using these roads to please exercise caution and drive slowly – not only for the sake of leopards, but also their prey and other small carnivores. Countless mammals get run over by cars on the roads leading through and around the mountains every day. Caracal, mongoose, genet, polecat, honey badger, porcupine, rabbit, hare, dassie, etc. – all fall victim to reckless driving and speeding on our roads."
Anyone with information on the possible whereabouts of the leopard carcass is to contact the Cape Leopard Trust: Lana Muller - 023 004 1208, or CapeNature: Donny Malherbe - 022 931 2900.