[botswanapredatorforum] FW: Leopard aging test

  • From: "Debbie Peake" <debbie@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <botswanapredatorforum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:29:01 +0200

Hi Tico and Eleanor


Tico - this is more for your interest, although it's possible that you and
Guy have already been in touch.    Whilst the "guide" is a good idea, it's
relevant for BWPA as they need it more than we do .. Perhaps Paul F knows of
this work already?




From: Guy Balme [mailto:gbalme@xxxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: 08 April 2011 05:01 PM
To: debbie@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Leopard aging test


Hi Debbie,


We've never met but I've heard lots about your work. I have a favour to ask.
I'm trying to compile a leopard aging guide for hunters similar to the one
that Karyl Whitman & Craig Packer produced for lions. I don't believe
age-based regulations are as applicable for leopards (given they harder to
age & the threshold over which hunting has little affect appears that much
older) but I still think it's important that we encourage & assist hunters
to target older males.


I've finally managed to collate enough material from known-aged leopards in
the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa to produce the guide. However,
before it's distributed, I'd like to run a short test to assess the accuracy
of aging & sexing leopards from photographs. I realise this is v different
from doing it in the field but I still believe it's a worthwhile exercise.
It will hopefully demonstrate which age classes are more difficult to
distinguish, the most suitable photos to use (facial, side profile, or a
combination of both), etc. As many leopard hunters now use camera-traps to
judge trophy quality, it will at the v least provide information on how best
to deploy cameras & appraise pictures. If there is enough buy-in, I would
also like to run a follow-up test once the guide has been published to gauge
whether it does improve aging ability.


The test is split into 3 sections - sexing leopards only (no aging
component), aging male leopards using individual photographs, & aging male
leopards using paired photos. All of the pictures are of known-aged
individuals but I have used 4 age categories for test: 0-2 yrs, 2-4 yrs, 4-7
yrs, >7 yrs. These make the most practical & biological sense. Again, I know
there are marked regional differences in the size & appearance of leopards
but some of the aging cues are applicable across their range.


Is there any chance you can circulate the test among members of the BWMA? I
realise there are v few leopards now hunted in Botswana but I'm sure many of
the PHs would have extensive experience from the past. To make this
meaningful, we will need a decent sample size. The test only takes 15 min or
so to complete & I will send them their results (which will be kept strictly
confidential) & a copy of the guide if they participate. Pls tell them to
respond directly to me at gbalme@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 


Thanks v much.





Guy Balme, PhD
Lion Program
Tel. +27 21 680 5148

Mobile. +27 82 694 3083
Fax. +27 21 680 5011


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