Pastoralists on rangelands adjacent to the Baviaanskloof Provincial Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape, report stock losses through predation by leopards (Panthera pardus). This leads, in certain cases, to persecution of the leopards. This study attempted to quantify livestock depredation by leopards by comparing leopard diet within and outside the reserve. Leopard scats from both areas were analysed for prey items. A total of 18 prey taxa was identified, including small to medium-sized ungulates, rodents, birds and a felid. The mountain reedbuck was the most frequently utilized prey, followed by vlei rat, bushbuck, rock hyrax and grysbok. Baboons, although abundant throughout the study area, were not utilized by these leopards. There was a significant difference in the frequency of prey items between the reserve and the rangeland samples in terms of the relative contribution of the prey taxa. Medium-sized and small ungulates were heavily utilized in the reserve, whilst the diet in rangelands was composed largely of small mammals (including small ungulates). Only two scats contained the remains of domestic animals, indicating that <5% of the diet comprised this prey category, and suggesting that leopards in the study area do not preferentially prey on livestock.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1