The micro-habitats of the Soutpansberg mountain range are home to highly diverse animal communities, with over 60% of of mammal species found in South Africa recorded in the mountains with an an especially rich carnivore community. Large carnivore species that range in the mountains are leopard (Panthera pardus), brown hyaena (Hyaena brunnea) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), with leopards particularly abundant around Lajuma. Smaller carnivore species include African civet (Civettictis civetta), common genet (Genetta genetta), aardwolf (Proteles cristatus), honey badger (Mellivora capensis), caracal (Felis caracal), African wildcat (Felis silvestris), serval (Leptailurus serval), Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) and several mongoose species; water mongoose (Atilax paludinosus). dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula), slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) and banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) are no longer found on the mountain plateau and lions (Panthera leo) only remain in the far eastern part of the Soutpansberg (Gaigher & Suart 2003).
The Soutpansberg mountain range also hosts 56% of South Africa’s bird species, including a large diversity of birds of prey. Of particular interest are crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus), Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii) and Verreaux’s eagle owl (Bubo lacteus) since all are confirmed or potential predators of primates in our study area.
Our current and future carnivore work predominantly focusses on the following species:
- Leopard (Panthera pardus)
- Brown hyaena (Hyaena brunnea)
- African Civet (Civettictis civetta)
- Common Genet (Genetta genetta)
- African crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus)
- Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Gaigher, I.G. & Stuart, C.T. 2003. Mammals. In: Berger, K., Crafford, J.E., Gaigher, I., Gaigher, M.J., Hahn, N. & Macdonald, I. (eds.) A first synthesis of the environmental, biological and cultural assets of the Soutpansberg. Leach Printers & Signs, Louis Trichardt, South Africa