In the last three weeks I was away at the AWF Biennial Meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya. Before I left I thought it would be prudent to leave cameras in the field so they can do the job while I was away. Upon my return I learned there were runaway fires from Mozambique.
I got even more worried when I saw burnt areas on the map. Three of my cameras were in those areas. I then went to visit the camera stations to investigate.
Towards the end of August I visited other AWF’s large carnivore projects. The idea was that I could learn from other well established projects and see how different/similar land-use practices between East Africa and South Africa are. The projects include the lion project in the Maasai Steppe Heartland (Tanzania) and the wild dog project in the Samburu Heartland (Kenya).
11:00am: I take the research car and go and upload pictures from the cameras. I’m unsettled at this stage because I’m alone. I get to the first camera station. I get out of the car, pick up the stones that lay right next to the car and throw them in to the nearest thickets and wait. At this point I’m standing at the door in the Nakedi’s Ready Position: “if something so much as growls from that thicket, I will dive in to the open door and lock myself in,” I make a mental note.
4:45am: Wake up and take a shower (I’m extremely grumpy* at this stage).
5:00am: Still grumpy, I get in to the research car with my backpack and laptop bag and follow the bus from Shishangane (Staff Village) to the lodge (Singita Kruger National Park).
Contents of the backpack:
2. Ziplock® bags in case we come across leopard droppings
6. My note book
7. A sweater (I wonder why)
The use of camera traps has proven to be a useful way to get an idea of leopard activities in the N’wanetsi Concession. I've been able to capture good quality photographs were taken during the survey. There were 20 leopard photographs taken during the study and about 13 individuals. However, because we only have one camera per station it is difficult to say this with confidence.