Data on the population size and trends of large carnivores remains the cornerstone of effective management and conservation programs. However, such data are rarely available for the majority of large carnivore species. Furthermore, large carnivore research is often directed towards formally protected areas. There is therefore a need to improve our knowledge regarding the population ecology of large carnivores in non-protected areas. In this study we use camera trapping in conjunction with spatially explicit mark–recapture models to estimate leopard Panthera pardus density across different land use types in the Waterberg Biosphere, South Africa. Estimated densities (mean ± SE) ranged from 6.59 (±5.2/100 km²) on a matrix of commercial game and livestock farms to 5.35 (±2.93/100 km²) and 4.56 (±1.35/100 km²) on two protected areas (Lapalala and Welgevonden respectively). Although density estimates had large confidence intervals we suggest that these results indicate similar densities across the three sites. These results support other studies suggesting that non-protected areas can harbour as dense leopard populations as protected areas, and can therefore not be neglected in the management of leopards.