The Programme Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Nigeria, Mr Andrews Dunn, has said that more leopards can still be found in some wilderness areas in Nigeria if determined focus is aimed at it.
This follows the discovery of a leopard last week in Yankari by the WCS which was captured by an automatic ‘camera trap.’
Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust in his office, Dunn said leopards were once presumed extinct in this area of Nigeria but that with commitment and modern gadgets, the predator can be found in good numbers since they move most often in the night.
“We believe that leopards could persist in low numbers across more territory in Nigeria than previously thought. Camera traps are an increasingly common and effective tool used by conservation biologists to survey rare species that would otherwise be extremely difficult to see,” he said.
“Solitary and territorial, the leopard is a highly adaptable and versatile predator,” he said. Dunn said: “Provided that there is sufficient prey available, it can survive in places where other animals cannot. Leopards are usually only active at night, so we believe that it is likely that a small group of leopards have existed all along in Yankari, but have escaped detection until now.” The conservation expert said that lions, elephants and leopards were once widespread across the whole of Nigeria including the rainforest and savanna, but that leopards are threatened by habitat loss, loss of prey and the illegal wildlife trade.
He explained that today, leopards are restricted to a few protected areas of Nigeria such as Kainji Lake National Park and Gashaka-Gumti National Park as well as Yankari Games Reserve.