Apex predators play a critical role in maintaining the health of ecosystems but are highly susceptible to habitat degradation and loss caused by land-use changes, and to anthropogenic mortality. The leopard Panthera pardus is the last free-roaming large carnivore in the Western Cape province, South Africa. During 2011–2015, we carried out a camera-trap survey across three regions covering c. 30,000 km2 of the Western Cape. Our survey comprised 151 camera sites sampling nearly 14,000 camera-trap nights, resulting in the identification of 71 individuals. We used two spatially explicit capture–recapture methods (R programmes secr and SPACECAP) to provide a comprehensive density analysis capable of incorporating environmental and anthropogenic factors. Leopard density was estimated to be 0.35 and 1.18 leopards/100 km2, using secr and SPACECAP, respectively. Leopard population size was predicted to be 102–345 individuals for our three study regions. With these estimates and the predicted available leopard habitat for the province, we extrapolated that the Western Cape supports an estimated 175–588 individuals. Providing a comprehensive baseline population density estimate is critical to understanding population dynamics across a mixed landscape and helping to determine the most appropriate conservation actions. Spatially explicit capture–recapture methods are unbiased by edge effects and superior to traditional capture–mark–recapture methods when estimating animal densities. We therefore recommend further utilization of robust spatial methods as they continue to be advanced.