Updated: May 7 2009 2:14PM
GARDEN ROUTE BUREAU CHIEF
THE Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre in Bitou yesterday announced the addition of a three-month-old leopard cub, Zwelakhe, to their wild cat family.
Tenikwa, which focuses on raising awareness of the indigenous cats of South Africa, will use Zwelakhe (Xhosa for “in his world”) as an ambassador for his species and to showcase the work done by the Landmark Foundation.
Bitou Tourism spokesman Heike Nell said Tenikwa hoped “the little cat will help to highlight the leopard‘s struggle for survival in the wild”.
“Tenikwa owners Len and Mandy Freeman have always wanted to add leopard species to their predominantly lesser cats in order to raise awareness in the community with regard to leopards.
“They recently became aware of the availability of a male leopard cub and took the opportunity to bring him to Tenikwa.”
The Landmark Foundation works to understand leopard populations and encourage non-lethal methods of predator management, including the abolition of gin traps.
Property owners along the Garden Route have already started installing camera traps in an effort to determine local leopard populations.
“It is not enough to assume that leopard populations are holding their own,” Len Freeman said, adding Zwelakhe‘s purpose at Tenikwa would be to encourage community involvement in the preservation of the leopard and to help the community understand the role that predators play in ensuring a healthy ecosystem.
“Members of the public can ensure protection of predators by buying products, such as meat, which are branded as wildlife-friendly,” he said.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org