Saving Magaliesberg Species
The Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA), Northern Areas Region (NAR) and the Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Nature Conservation (TUT) have launched a three-tiered programme to save the wildlife of the Magaliesberg. This follows the dramatic rescue of Brandy the pregnant leopard, who was snared on the mountain, captured, nursed back to health and released back into the Magaliesberg.
We have one of the Big 5, the Leopard, right on our doorstep, literally 60 km from the centre of Pretoria, and the time has come for us to actively start managing the biodiversity in our environment. By managing the leopard population, we will be able to manage other animal species on the mountain and restore balance on the mountain.
The programme - named SMS - involves WESSA’s Northern Areas Region committee, volunteers and interns and senior students in Nature Conservation from TUT and is aimed at managing the rich biodiversity of the Magaliesberg mountain range.
The programme addresses the three following themes:
- Rid the Magaliesberg of snares responsible for killing and maiming wildlife – regular snare removal exercises encompassing identification of ‘hot-spots’ and focusing on these areas
- Identifying the ‘bush-meat’ traders and addressing the issues from a community perspective
- Promoting community involvement in sustainably utilising and conserving one of the most unique areas on the continent, the Magaliesberg mountain range.
The WESSA NAR committee has taken the lead in stimulating the community into action. It is expected that this action will form a ‘blue-print’ for other communities grappling with a similar situation.
TUT and WESSA have partnered with Biodiversity Management, North West Provincial Government in providing training to members of the community.
As part of the programme’s first activities, TUT students, WESSA volunteers and the local community members are conducting regular snare-sweeps and other interventions, in order to minimise the risk of future snaring of wildlife inhabiting the magnificent Magaliesberg mountain range. Every snare removed translates into the saving of several animals, as each snare is usually used repeatedly.
After her horrifying snaring experience, Brandy the leopard has been released back into the wild! Ever since her capture and treatment, the team involved have been determined to give her and her cubs the best possible chance of survival in the wild. This necessitated the formation of a ‘quick-response’ team which includes a veterinarian, with the aim of monitoring, through satellite technology, the wellbeing of the collared leopards of the Magaliesberg.
Background to the ‘wake-up’ call for the programme
The Brandy Leopard saga first started in September 2014 when John Power confirmed that Brandy, the leopard, was caught in a snare in the Magaliesberg and requested assistance from Dr Bartels, a WESSA NAR member, in her capture and treatment. Brandy required urgent veterinary medical treatment after which she was airlifted to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital’s helipad, where Johannesburg Zoo veterinary personnel collected her. After treatment Brandy was pronounced ready for release back into the wild. In October 2014 Brandy was anesthetised and flown to her release site in the Magaliesberg. Before her release Brandy was fitted with a satellite collar and is being monitored by Power. Brandy has since been recorded (Camera-trap) with two healthy cubs.
WESSA NAR committee has adopted the Magaliesberg Wildlife programme and invites concerned local and international community members to get involved. Involvement may include one or more of the following:
1. Volunteering to spend a morning hiking in the Magaliesberg to removed snares, in so doing saving the lives of animals;
2. Volunteering your time to do do what you do best, in support of the programme. Contact any of the NAR committee members to discuss your involvement;
3. Organising events to raise awareness of the plight of the wildlife of the Magaliesberg
4. Raising funds to assist the team with carrying out its conservation work
5. Providing funds for the programme
Equipment required for 2015
Five GPS units to allow the position of snares to be mapped with accuracy. This will allow trends and "routes" to be clearly identified and facilitate proactive intervention.
Twelve kit belts containing
- Cable cutters
- Emergency whistle
- Alpha numeric snare tags
- Hard cover book for data capture
Fully equipped Fire Aid Kit in a back-pack. Team members might be injured when removing snared, from a fall or if a hurt animal is encountered.
Drone with GoPro camera to allow remote visualisation of suspected snared animal. Remote visualisation will allow staff and volunteers to safely inspect a suspected snaring event. The drone will be less expensive, and more accessible than a helicopter.
Five hand-held radios to keep in contact with patrols and volunteers on the mountain.
Vehicle radio-set. This radio set will be at the base station from which volunteer will receive support.
Ten camera traps
Laminated maps of the region
Additional funding is required for transportation costs -
- Student transport bus for six trips from TUT to Skeerpoort
- Fuel for two vehicles to transport teams up the mountain
Research Funding -
TUT MSc Student Support over two years for a MSc Project provisionally entitled "Towards sustainability of biodiversity within the Magaliesberg Biosphere: Community interaction with wildlife of the Magaliesberg Mountain Range".
For more information on the Magaliesberg Wildlife Programme, please contact:
Dr Paul Bartels (Magaliesberg Wildlife Programme coordinator)
Mobile: 082 990-3533