What do we hope to achieve?

The aim of the project is to enhance knowledge of leopard populations, their distribution and dynamics of hunted populations. This will then allow for science-based conservation and management of the species, and leopard hunting quotas will be based on current data rather than historical precedent. Our further understanding of this elusive species will provide baseline data and build capacity to ensure an ecological and economical sustainable leopard trophy hunting system within Zimbabwe.

It is also hoped that as leopards occur widely outside National Parks they can act as a flagship species to further encourage the protection and expansion of wildlife habitat.

To achieve this aim, the main objectives of the proposed study are to:

  • assess three population parameters (density, demographics and recruitment) in different consumptive utilisation systems to assist with determining the viability of leopard populations using a non-consumptive utilisation area as the control population.
  • to build capacity within the ZPWMA and the hunting industry, using data and experience gained during the study
  • to develop a sustainable trophy hunting system for leopard in conjunction with all stakeholders.

Photograph by Craig van Zyl- April 2007

The project will carry out the following activities to achieve the main objectives and to reach the final aim:

  • Determine relative densities of leopards in the control area, and the four different consumptive utilisation systems. The project will use representative study sites within each of the five areas. (This work will be carried out under Phase 1 of the project). With additional density data from other land use areas where leopard occur, these data will then be used to estimate a national population of leopard.
  • Assess the population structure of the five representative leopard populations to compare male to female ratios, and the ratios of adults to subadults and juveniles (This work will be carried out under Phase II of the project)
  • Determine comparative levels of recruitment into each of the representative populations (This work will be carried out under Phase III of the project).
  • Train personnel within the ZPWMA and the hunting industry to monitor leopard populations on an annual basis (This will be ongoing for the duration of the project)
  • Ensure that all stakeholders are fully aware of the project and partake in the development of a sustainable trophy hunting system using the data and experience collected during this study.