When it comes to habituating a big cat, Projeto Onçafari, is not reinventing the wheel. Londolozi Game Reserve, in South Africa, has already done this very successfully with the Leopard. By no means am I saying that Leopards and Jaguars are the same cat, in fact from what I have seen there are striking differences, but what I am saying is that they have proved it possible… they have shown that given the time, patience and respect cats can be relaxed to the presence of vehicles.
This is exactly our goal here in the Pantanal of Brasil.
Their journey goes back nearly four decades and so their experience is vast. The terrain over here in the Pantanal is completely different and one would be naive to think that the exact ‘habituation model’ could be applied here; but we are using an adapted model to suite our conditions.
Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s John Varty and Elmon Mhlongo tracked a particular Leopard countless times. Whenever they managed to track down this secretive animal, they would see if they could get a vehicle close to her. With each and every sighting, the leopard grew more relaxed and comfortable to their presence. This allowed them to get the vehicle closer and closer until, after a few years, they were able to view her without her caring at all! They had successfully habituated the first Leopard, and in turn did the same to her cubs. In her lifetime this female Leopard (known as the Mother) had roughly 19 cubs. At Londolozi, all these years later, they are still viewing the Mother Leopard’s direct descendants.
Projeto Onçafari has just completed its second birthday, and is already making massive strides in the right direction. We have been able to speed up the process by applying modern day technology (like camera traps and GPS collars) to the vital lessons and tricks passed on to us by the kind Londolozi family. Conservation pioneers from two different continents working hand-in-hand. It is a great example of expanding conservation frontiers and putting more land under wildlife.
There is little doubt in my mind that Londolozi is the best place in the world to view wild Leopards. In fact, the phrase ‘The Leopards of Londolozi’ is well known worldwide by wildlife lovers. If you ever get the opportunity to go on Safari in South Africa, I would highly recommend it as your ultimate destination…you will leave inspired and rejuvenated as to mans relationship with the wild.
We will continue to work closely with Londolozi and will regularly update all you big-cat lovers with news from our friends in South Africa.To visit the Londolozi blog follow this link:http://blog.londolozi.com/