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Monthly newsletter - May 2023
Collaboration is the new competition: spotlight on a network of reserves in the Hoedspruit area.
The month of May was crucial for the project. In order to truly expand the research, the reserves had to agree to work together and accept to share information. Each reserve has its own specificities, operations and goals, which can make difficult to move in one direction.
Yet, in Hoedspruit (Greater Kruger), there are now 17 entities that have agreed to collaborate. How did it happen?
For a week, I met with over 40 key stakeholders in order to present the project in person, discuss collaboration and learn about the best way to take the research to its next level. However, it all came together during a meeting at the Royal Malewane new Research Centre, situated in the Thornybush nature reserve, bordering the Kruger Park. The aim of the meeting was to present myself, the On Track Foundation, Ingwe Leopard Research and the vision I have for the project. But mainly, I wanted everyone to get together, to give inputs, to share ideas, to debate and to start having the same vision and goal. After two hours, we had a way forward.
In June, we will officially sign Memorandum of Understanding (non-legally binding contracts) to seal the partnership.
Below is the opening of the meeting at the Royal Malewane Research Centre.
Informing the public
When such collaboration is happening at a large scale, it is important to inform the public. Thanks to the Hoedspruit Conservation & Research Club, that organizes monthly talk, I was able to meet with the residents of Hoedspruit and present the research. It was a great opportunity to learn how they can themselves become citizen scientists (i.e. participate in the research by also sharing information), how does artificial intelligence benefit conservation and how, together, we will contribute to leopard conservation.
The Waterberg, in Limpopo, represents one-third of the province and only about 8% of the land is a protected area. Leopards are very skittish in the area and seldom seen but many reserves have reported sightings, tracks & signs or captures on camera traps. The first aim in this region is to build a database of identified leopards and to understand leopard distribution.
Through a partnership with the Waterberg Research Support Centre (WRSC), we are encouraging as many stakeholders as possible to share leopards’ information. All the reserves, farms, private properties will have access to the SMART mobile app in order to log sightings and share their camera trap images. All the reserves that have also been conducting leopard research, will also start sharing their own information. All the images of leopards captured in the Waterberg will be uploaded on the African Carnivore Wildbook. We will then have students from the University of Pretoria who will analyse the data as part of their thesis.
May has been a busy month in terms of data sharing. The residents from Rietpsruit Game Reserve and the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate were very lucky to have numerous leopards’ sightings and leopards captured on camera traps. Marataba Game Reserve in the Waterberg also shared a very high number of camera trap images of high quality.
See below the amount of data submitted in 2023:
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Unfortunately, funds will dry out by October 2023 so I am urgently looking for financial support. I am working on many different venues, as I am committed to this research and to the reserves. Luckily, there are many ways you can support the project and help me ensures that we can sustainably run the research.
Enjoy Arid Wines. The owner is committed to give a percentage of the sales to the project. Visit the website and enter the promo code “Ingwe” to have a 10% discount. Hurry, as the code will not be valid for much longer!
Donate directly on the On Track Foundation website.
Walk around with the Ingwe Leopard Research tote bag. It is only R200 (roughly £10, 10€, USD10). Does not include delivery. Reach out to order yours! email@example.com
Travel with On Track Safaris to 9 different countries. All the net profits go directly into the research.
If you own a company, sponsor the research as part of your Environmental Corporate Responsibility
Don’t miss out on the crowdfunding campaign that will be launched in July - it is reward based!