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Leopards (Panthera pardus) are a staple of Uganda’s larger carnivore species. Secretive, solitary, and very elusive, they are often difficult to track, but can often be found around the Mweya peninsula in northern Queen Elizabeth National Park. Leopards can be found in almost every protected area throughout the country, though like lions, they still suffer persecution for preying on domestic livestock.

Being as stealthy as they are, leopards have been known to break into fairly predator-proof bomas and kraals to get at sheep and goats. This can sometimes foster local resentment, the result of which can be the carcass of a goat or ewe laced with poison and left in the bush. If ingested, the leopard and any cubs will not survive.

The good news is that we are working with local communities to enhance the protection of their livestock, while at the same time educating people about the dangers of grazing their animals in places where leopards are known to frequent. This is where the use of scientific data comes in handy. By tracking collared leopards, we can get a better idea of where they go in the park in order to prevent human-carnivore conflict before it happens. While livestock predation cannot always be stopped, continued monitoring and early warning alert systems have reduced attacks on livestock, which in turn reduces punitive measures taken by local people. Combined with education and sensitization efforts, leopards in Queen Elizabeth National Park have a much better chance of survival.

If interested in learning more, please read the story about a leopard named Kim and her incredible relationship with the community of Muhokyo, which has since been referred to as Leopard Village. It is a powerful testament to the resolve that many wonderful local people have to protect their carnivores.

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