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You’d be forgiven for thinking that Lisa, Ouma Maaitjie and Johan were resident characters of popular soap opera 7de Laan. They’re not of course. They are names of three leopards that have been adopted by Leopard’s Leap Wines as part of a larger conservation partnership with the Cape Leopard Trust. These three spotted feline characters not only call the dusty plains of Great Karoo and craggy peaks of the Cederberg Mountains their back yards, they also grace all Leopards Leap Wines bottles in tribute of their freedom.

Eugene Van Zyl, Leopard’s Leap winemaker and avid conservationist says that supporting the Cape Leopard’s Trust is our way of giving back to the nature that gives us our wines. Through this project, Leopards Leap Wines has managed to sponsor three of these beautiful and sadly endangered creatures.

According to the Cape Leopard Trust, the species has routinely and regularly been removed from farms with little knowledge of population or genetic status, whether removals are sustainable or whether the factors giving rise to conflict are established.

The leopard fills the role of the apex predator in the Western Cape ecosystem and acts as an ‘umbrella species’ which effectively helps in the conservation of smaller or lower profile predators. The effect will ripple through the food chain to the farmers’ benefit. “Conservation is similar to winemaking,” says van Zyl, “A bit like a good wine, conservation is about balance and keeping or restoring it to the way in which nature intended.”

Leopard’s Leap Wines makes an annual contribution to the Cape Leopard Trust which aims to optimally facilitate conservation of the Cape’s predator diversity. It does this through simultaneously implementing conservation strategies, research projects and tourism initiatives. It also educated and encourages the youth of disadvantaged communities to have a vested interest in the environment.

That’s conservation and that’s cause for celebration. Raise a Leopard’s Leap toast to the Cape Leopard Trust this new year. After all, it might be the only chance you’ll have of seeing Lisa, Ouma Maaitjie and Johan.

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