Some might call it cheating, but when the opportunity arose I couldn’t help shooting a few frames. One of the techniques I use to sample the lions is the use of ’calling-stations’. This is a very simple combination of a couple of big speakers with a built in amplifier and a recording of a distressed buffalo calf, triggered remotely. This is one of the most horrific sounds to have to listen to for long periods of time and necessitates serious ear plugs to save the researchers sanity, but is like candy to lions – and also, it would seem, for hyaena, sometimes leopards, and on a very rare occasion a wild dog or two. The last two are very rare visitors to such stations, but the leopard pictured here, just a few kilometres from Banoka Bush Camp, was a very curious leopard almost placing her head right inside the speaker!
This calling station technique is useful for attracting often hard to find lions so that I can biopsy-dart them and can also be used for population census’ if carefully calibrated for the specific area. Additionally, if care is taken to recorded sufficient data at each station, we do not have to repeat them in the same areas with too much frequency, thus reducing any behavioural interference.