Cape Town’s Big 5, Aquila Private Game Reserve, was created 15 years ago, and is named after the rarely-sighted Black or Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii). This raptor is regularly seen from a distance by eagle-eyed rangers and Aquila’s guests.
As part of a leopard monitoring programme, Aquila staff place cameras at the site of recent kills made by several of the elusive and endangered nocturnal Cape Mountain Leopards that hunt on the Reserve. Cameras have been placed at the carcasses of three different Blesbok that have been killed during the last month. Searl Derman, owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, was delighted to view the camera trap footage, which shows two pristine black eagles feasting leisurely on the leopard’s prey. A ranger at Aquila has logged two broad daylight sightings of a pair of these nocturnal leopards during the last few months. Owner Derman commented that “it is nice to have a healthy natural predation at Aquila, and although lions, elephants, buffalo and rhino are regularly seen, the leopards are elusive and until now, only spoor, scat and the carcasses of the leopard kills were seen regularly on game drives.
In order to contribute to conservation of the Cape Mountain Leopard, Aquila is in the process of installing portable camera traps at the carcasses of the leopard kills that will transmit infra-red night vision video to the restaurant, lounge and cigar bar communal areas at the lodge. Aquila will be offering a complementary cocktail to all guests in the lounge or cigar bar after dinner, who are lucky enough to sight the leopards. Aquila is proud to be in a position to offer its visitors an opportunity to experience other nocturnal predators that they believe will be very active, such as the caracal (lynx), black backed jackal and big cervil cats that are very active and hunt nocturnally.
Swartland Winery and Aquila Private Game Reserve proudly partnered in a conservation project for Black Eagles and other raptors. As part of its commitment to conservation, a portion of the proceeds from Swartland Winery’s very popular Swartland Premier range, profits from Aquila’s branded clothing range and various other fundraising activities were put towards this project. The Aquila / Swartland Conservation Fund ensured that the Black Eagle was monitored and conserved. Funds from this completed project will continue to attempt to educate all on issues that affect raptors in the Western Cape.