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Carnivores caught on camera!

in Africa
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UmPhafa ranger reports on camera trap success! 

There are many animals on Umphafa that we know are here but they simply manage to elude us. These are usually animals that are nocturnal or generally very shy such as Leopard, Honey badgers, genets, serval, caracal, aardvark and Bush pig. These animals like to avoid human interaction for many reasons. With this understanding we use a technique that is hopefully not too intrusive on their lifestyle. By setting up camera’s we can often get pictures of these specific animals and many others behaving naturally.

hyena-camera-trapnewDuring early October we set up a number of cameras across the reserve. We place the cameras in areas where we were aware that there had been noted activity. This could simply be a track that has been found or in the case of what we found just before placing the cameras, a number of carcasses concentrated within one area.  By setting up the cameras we also get a better understanding of what is going on in this vast area. We cover large parts of the reserve on foot and often come across tell tale signs of one animal or another but hard evidence such as pictures or video is always a fantastic way to expand our own knowledge.

We have recently trawled through every video and picture of leopard ever taken on the reserve. By doing this we have identified four individual animals via their different markings. This means with this newly established identification kit we can hopefully identify individuals from any future images captured.

We leave out the cameras for a couple of weeks at a time to ensure that the animals do not see too much human activity.

When we bring the cameras in it is undisputedly one of the most exciting events for us all here on the reserve. We’re always wondering what we will capture with the hope that we will see the presence of the leopard as well many other elusive species! Watch this space!

Bird-cameratrapAs well as the fantastic use of cameras to capture images at Colchester Zoo’s UmPhafa Reserve, camera traps have also been successfully used by the N/a’an Ku sê Carnivore Conservation Research Project. This project has been sponsored by Colchester Zoo’s charity Action for the Wild since 2012 and our most recent donation was used to invest in camera traps which would allow staff on the research site to identify and monitor the carnivores. This is a vital tool in establishing numbers and keeping an eye on those who have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild without disrupting them. So far the cameras set up on the reserve have successfully captured images of cheetah, brown hyena and the new resident male leopard who has proven to be one of the largest carnivores at the site! In the most recent images from the camera a spotted hyene mother and cub have be photographed as well secretary bird near one of the reserves waterholes!  

For more information on the N/a’an Ku sê Carnivore Conservation Research Project and their work in Namibia, click here.

NB All images were taken at the Kanaan research base by the N/a’an Ku sê Carnivore Conservation Research Project cameras.

Action for the Wild is Colchester Zoo’s charitable arm

Action for the Wild became a charity in 2004

Action for the Wild has donated over £2 million to animal conservation to date