The Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) is a conservation organisation founded in 2004. Its focus is scientific research and environmental education offering experiential learning programmes in the Boland and the Cederberg.
On a fine and rather warm day in October, the Cape Leopard Trust environmental education team took a group of 24 grade 3 learners from Bridge House School for an educational hike in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve in the mountains above Franschhoek.
Part of the CLT’s environmental education programme is to raise awareness around protecting natural habitats and minimising the threats facing biodiversity; not just here in the Western Cape, but in the rest of the world. It is especially important to conduct our environmental education work in areas where people are living so close to the mountains and to leopard habitat. Increasing development means that there are fewer green buffers between human and wildlife habitat, which can ultimately lead to human-wildlife conflict.
These grade 3 pupils had previously raised money for a camera-trap for the CLT, and this outing was a chance for them to see first-hand how our research is done. We hiked with them to our camera trap and repositioned it in another location. They learned about camera-trap research, biodiversity in the Cape Mountains, food webs and food chains, pollinators, endemic fauna and flora species, water catchment areas as well as many other topics. “We learnt why we need to protect our leopards and what they help to do in the ecosystem”, says Hugh, a grade 3 learner from Bridge House who attended the outing.
Leopards are the apex predators in the Cape mountains and it is vital for people to understand that the leopard has an important role in eco-system functioning, because as top predators they maintain a healthy and natural balance. The CLT uses the rare Cape mountain leopard as a flagship species to highlight broader environmental issues.
The Cape Leopard Trust is an active predator conservation working group in the Cape. It uses research as a tool for conservation, to find solutions to human-wildlife conflict and to inspire interest in the environment through an interactive and dynamic environmental education programme. The CLT Environmental Education Project facilitates experiences in nature that change the way young people see themselves, and the environment. Our aim is to educate and empower young people by connecting them with the natural world. Wilderness camps, day outings and eco-club experiences are available to all schools, youth groups and organisations. Content is uniquely created to help educators with the complex subject of learning for sustainable development.