When we started the Boland Project back in March 2010, one of the first properties we visited was the Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve near Brandvlei dam. On the wall in the reception area hung a photograph of a beautiful male leopard, taken on the property in 2001 with a home-made camera trap. We set up one of our cameras at that exact same spot, and could not believe it when a couple of months later we got images of this very same leopard – now much older and certainly a lot wiser! In the two years since we have had numerous photographs of BM7, showing him to be regularly patrolling his territory and successfully defending it against other males. This is the longest photographic record of a leopard in the Western Cape and this cat is estimated to be at least 14 years old. BM7 was named “BJK1” after being adopted by BJK Industries at a CLT fundraising auction in 2010. Due to his old age, he has also affectionately been nicknamed “Oupa”, and he has gained an almost legendary status. BM7 was successfully captured and collared in September 2012, and his collar data showed that he was maintaining a fair area of prime mountain territory, but that he was also utilising some sub-optimal territory in the lower-lying valley. He was still successfully hunting and marking his territory, and although he certainly moved around less than his younger rivals, he was in no way incapacitated by old age. Sadly, the wheel of life keeps on turning, and BM7 recently passed away. He has given us very valuable insight into leopard ecology and behaviour – BJK1, Oupa – we salute you!

By Jeannie Hayward & Anita Meyer

CLT Boland Project