The recent increase in habitat fragmentation across our continents calls for concern with regard to the future survival of wildlife. In this respect corridors and stepping-stones are important. Targeting a wide-ranging top-trophic carnivore, the aim of this study was to estimate the density and abundance of leopards (Panthera pardus) in an area that might serve as a stepping-stone between other larger protected areas. We deliberately used a survey method designed to balance resource utilization and relevance of the results to fit the purpose of a pilot survey. The Sangare Ranch Conservancy is a newly established, privately owned park in Kenya. Using non-invasive techniques we identified 13 individual leopards composing of approximately 80% males. In addition, we found 28 leopard signs per 100 km walked, a predicted carrying capacity of around nine leopards/100 km2 and a leopard predation pressure on neighboring goat stock of 5.6%. We suggest that the conservancy plays an important role for leopard ecology and comprises a geographical and ecological stepping-stone between other protected wild habitats in the region. The study also suggests more efficient methods for future non-invasive studies.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2