Panthera - Leopard Research

Panthera Partnership Leopard Research


Panthera’s Sabi Sand leopard research

This programme is one of the most extensive research studies on leopards in the world and highlights this area as one of the world’s most stable and best protected leopard populations (a density of 12.2 leopards per 100km², the highest density yet recorded).

A well-protected environment and sensitive game-viewing practices have resulted in extremely relaxed leopards in the Sabi Sand Reserve; behaviours that are seldom (or never) viewed among leopards elsewhere, are recorded here frequently.

The Sabi Sand Leopard Project uses the relaxed nature of these leopards and the experience of ecotourism guides to convert daily leopard sightings into high-quality observation data, critical to informing leopard ecology and conservation strategies across South Africa and beyond.

Key Successes

  • The long-term research data helps to identify the processes that govern leopard population trends over years/generations and contributes to national and international population monitoring. This knowledge is applied both locally and throughout leopard range to assist persecuted or at-risk leopard populations.
  • Using recent advances in DNA technology, leopard life histories in the Sabi Sand are augmented with DNA extracted from field samples.Genetic profiling of these leopards assists with understanding relatedness and paternity, reproductive success, and contributes towards Panthera’s broader genetic research including forensic anti-trafficking operations.
  • This extensive flagship programme continues to lead Research and Management, using this unique long term, comprehensive data.

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve, home to Singita’s founding Lodge, is home to one of the world’s best protected and high-density leopard populations.

Panthera Partnership Leopard Research

How can I support this project?

  • Your support will contribute to Panthera’s ongoing genetic research and DNA scat analysis underway in the Sabi Sand Leopard Research Project. 
  • Support the Furs for Life Project: Alternatively, you might wish to donate directly towards the Panthera Furs for Life project, providing a faux fur alternative pelt, supported by the Shembe church and traditional leaders, which has reduced the demand for leopard skins by 50%, saving 18 000 leopards that would have been hunted for their skins through this initiative. https://panthera.org/furs-life

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