Penguins protected from killer leopard

Photograph of a leopard at Stony Point: Van As Jordaan/Cape Nature

Penguins protected from killer leopard

After a leopard killed 33 endangered African penguins at Stony Point – one of the largest breeding colonies in the world – CapeNature introduced natural deterrents to prevent further losses.

Among the steps taken are daytime and nocturnal patrols at the colony and the use of scent deterrents such as lion scat and pepper spray to discourage the leopard from returning to the site. Random dog patrols are conducted and camera traps have been set up to remotely monitor occurrences.

During the initial attack, an adult bird was injured and an abandoned chick and five penguin eggs were also found at empty nest sites. All of these were removed and taken to SANCCOB for rehabilitation, rearing and incubation.

Leopards themselves are a threatened species, especially in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape where the adult population is estimated to be between 500-700 as a result of human-wildlife conflict. Predating on penguins is a natural behaviour.

However, Guy Balme of conservation group Panthera said, “As long as there’s other suitable prey available, leopards and other carnivores can be discouraged.”

As a result of the action taken by CapeNature, the leopard has not been seen in the vicinity again since the original attack.