As South Africa celebrates Heritage Month, I was recently reminded of a part of our heritage that few people know even exists. We’ve all heard of the Big Five, which includes elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions and leopards, however in order for us Capetonians to see any of these species, we normally have to travel inland. Little do we know, that right in our backyard, the Cape is still home to one of these five – with Cape Mountain Leopards the last of the legendary ‘Big 5’ to survive in the wild in the Cape.
Found in the Fynbos mountain ranges of the Boland and Cederberg, these elusive creatures still exist despite continued persecution and habitat loss. While half the size of their more well-known savanna counterparts, Cape leopards patrol massive territories (up to ten times larger than other leopards). However, with very little known about the number of leopards and specific movement patterns, more research, conservation and education projects are necessary. That is where the Cape Leopard Trust steps in – this not-for-profit conservation organisation focuses on ensuring the long-term survival of leopards in the Cape. And this year they are celebrating their 15th birthday!
And what better way to celebrate than with a life-size leopard cake? Master baker Dot Klerck, known for her life-size elephant and calf cake, has created a to-scale cake for the Cape Leopard Trust featuring a magnificent female leopard and her two cubs.
It’s almost too beautiful to eat, however, the One&Only Cape Town is also stepping up for conservation with some sweet treats that you simply have to tuck into! Their ‘Cat That Got the Cream Tea’ is a leopard-inspired cream tea designed to make a difference for the Cape’s leopards. This special edition of their iconic high tea includes an array of delectable savoury and sweet treats and R20 from each afternoon tea sold between the 13th of September and the 13th of October will be donated to the Cape Leopard Trust with a goal to raise R1.5m to continue their important work.
From high tea to ‘happy hour’, the One&Only’s Vista Bar’s mixologists having created a unique sip Leopard Extravaganza cocktail, using locally distilled and internationally award-winning GinSmith gin. Adorned with a beautiful leopard figure as its bottle’s brand signature, GinSmith from the Grootwinterhoek mountains in the Western Cape has its origins in leopard territory, and R10 from each bottle sold contributes to the work of the trust.
Another initiative worth supporting in aid of Cape Leopards comes from Camps Bay High School learners, Drew Goldie and Sebastian Byrnes. The young conservation ambassadors began an innovative fundraising drive called the Big Cat Youth Collection two years ago to raise money for big cat conservation by selling locally crafted big cat figures. Since then, the initiative has grown and supported various organisations. Their latest cat, a leopard called ‘Chui’ in support of the Cape Leopard Trust is the latest in their collection of big cats for good causes!
So this heritage day, lick your paws while enjoying some sweet leopard treats, get stuck into some gin or buy a unique gift for the little ones and know that while you’re doing so, you’re also helping to make sure that the Cape’s leopards continue to survive and thrive in our beautiful mountains!