Botswana Camera Trap Update

Oct 2, 2015 Conservation
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Camera trapping in our amazing Botswana concessions is proving to be very educational, a lot of fun and of course, all the findings are useful for our ongoing wildlife monitoring too…

Camera trap

We deployed five camera traps at once a few months back, but as with any electronics, things give up and so we are temporarily down to three. That has not stopped us though and a big thumbs-up must go to Johan from Xigera camp who has been doing some great work with the camera trap there.

He was only supposed to have it for a couple of months but with the findings and his persistence we have left it there indefinitely! Also another thumbs-up to Kang from Savuti Camp who has been leading the way there with some great work and persistence. And then finally, some great work by Peter from King’s Pool who has taken his own personal camera trap out into the field and started to get some great finds too… getting the first photo of a brown hyaena on the Linyanti Concession in years – or potentially ever – he, has set a very high standard for himself!

Brown hyaena at Kings Pool

Okavango Delta  Xigera Bridge 

Johan has captured many images and videos, the most impressive being two genets fighting… something that is very rarely recorded!

Xigera Bridge camera trap

Linyanti Concession – Tona Pans
An incredible capture of a brown hyaena close the King’s Pool research tent thanks to Peter Kenchington….what a start he had to his camera trapping ‘career’. We have had a handful of reliable reports of this species in the Linyanti in the last couple of years. However for it to be a useful scientific record you need a picture and now we can say for sure that this species occurs in the area and just on our doorstep!

Tona Pans camera trap
There is some reading and a lot of anecdotal reports that states brown hyaena are often outcompeted by the larger carnivores, especially lions. Lion viewing in the Linyanti has been up and down and not at all consistent with very few individuals being recorded of late compared to previous years. Could this be why we are seeing more brown hyaena? The ‘demise’ of one species leads to favourable conditions for another. It would be great if these brown hyaena could show us where their den is… and yes, we suspect there might be a den too but are playing the waiting game to find out!

Also captured, roan antelope heading to Tona Pans, possibly for a drink? Tona Pans holds water deep into the dry season and so we realized it was a good spot for a camera trap. The pans lie about 3 km SW of the Chobe airstrip.

Camera traps are great for showing little-known nocturnal behaviour. Also pictured, possibly the same roan heading for a drink, but just before 3am. If you look at what the moon was doing on 31 May… well it was two days from full, showing us how many species operate under the light of an almost full moon!

Elephant viewing at Tona Pans can be amazing with many herds coming and going throughout the day…

Bat-eared foxes also captured at Tona Pans. This seldom-seen species is a first-time camera trap capture in this concession. Interestingly, they have been seen a little bit more of late. Is this because the Linyanti/Savute is entering a dry period? Time will tell…

Mopani Bridge
A large spotted genet makes its way across the bridge. LSG have a black tip to their tail while the small spotted genet ends with a ‘white’ tip.

Mopani Bridge camera trap
The camera also caught a female leopard crossing over and markings her territory (fortunately not spraying our camera) and we have another image some seconds later of her big cub following shortly behind!

So many elephant… along the Savuti channel we counted more than 250 elephants on a transect recently with guide Bobby! However can you spot our reptilian friend in the top left image of the collage?

A porcupine walks past the bridge and then the same night a honey badger walks past!

So there you have it… science and security, our wildlife well served by these camera traps!

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By Nic Proust – Environmental Ecologist. Botswana

Nic worked for Wilderness Safaris as an Environmental Ecologist from 2012 to early 2017. "It has been a huge privilege to work as a conservationist in one of the most beautiful and wild areas in the world! At the beginning of 2012 I joined the Environmental Department of the Wilderness Safaris team in Botswana - working as their Environmental Ecologist. Having grown up spending almost every weekend and holiday in the fynbos or bush somewhere in southern Africa, I continued to follow my lifelong dream of working as a game ranger and eventually worked as a guide in the Greater Kruger National Park area for just short of two years. A few years of travelling and working in a photo studio but I was desperate to work back in the wild. A combination of my love for the area, the people I work with and meet as well as the variety of tasks keeps me learning while the overall conservation importance of my job keeps me hopelessly addicted!"

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