The Panthera organisation recently conducted a camera trap survey across Londolozi.
The survey was done to get a better understanding of the leopard dynamics, densities and movements, but had the added bonus of revealing a whole lot about Londolozi’s other inhabitants, both little and large. Rare animals were caught in the frame, common animals in funny situations, and sometimes we were left scratching our heads thinking, “What is that?”.
Whilst the statistical analyses are still being run on all the data accumulated in the survey (which we will release once we have received the final paper), we thought it would be fun to reveal some of what the camera traps saw over the 5o-odd days that they were up. We’ll publish them in a 3-part series, and today, we present the first gallery of our favourites.
A young male lion strolls past one of the stations. From his underdeveloped mane we can tell he is not one of the dominant Birmingham males. This particular camera was situated right in central Londolozi, so given the area we suspect he is one of the Tsalala males.
A rhino cow and calf. As we are in the very end of the dry season, what remaining grazing there is is patchy, so rhinos are forced to move around for a greater portion of the day in order to find enough food. This will often mean moving at night, but their enormous size keeps them safe from anything that might be interested in making a meal of them. Although the calf might appear vulnerable, it is safe so close to the protection of its mother.
Baboons are inquisitive creatures! In fact I’m surprised we didn’t get more photos like this on the camera traps as the baboons will always be keen to investigate anything new.
I think we have far more civets on the reserve than we are aware of. Nocturnal creatures, they are not often seen, but the sheer number of tracks that we find on the road suggests a very dense population.
Elephants turned out to be the nemesis of the survey. Also quite inquisitive like baboons, the main difference between the two is that the elephants have the colossal strength required to rip up or snap the metal stakes to which the cameras were attached, and a number of times we had to go and replace these poles after an elephant herd had moved through. Luckily the cameras themselves are fairly robust, and none of them were badly damaged. How many elephants are in this picture?
This is a bat. What species…? Your guess is as good as mine, but it looks like quite a large one, as bats go, which suggests it is a fruit-eating variety, which tend to be a bit bigger. Having said that, the fruit-eaters tend to stay higher up in the treetops, so why this one would be descending almost to ground level is beyond me.
A large spotted genet comes in close. An easy way to tell the two genet species apart (although I’ve never seen the small-spotted at Londolozi) is to look at the tail tip. The large-spotteds have a black tail-tip while the small-spotteds have a white tip.
Jackpot! An aardvark is caught on camera. I have yet to see a living aardvark in the wild, and although we know they’re here from their tracks and diggings (which we see regularly), the actual animals are incredibly elusive.
Ranger Pete Thorpe and a VERY unorthodox tracking technique. I haven’t actually chatted to Pete to find out what he was doing here, but I imagine he was scrutinising the ground as closely as possible. The Nhlanguleni female and her cubs have been spending time in the area that this photo was taken, so maybe he and tracker Bennet Mathonsi were looking for her. They do say that the best way to find an animal is to try get inside its head, so perhaps Pete was trying to BE the leopard…
Clearly curiosity isn’t limited to the highly intelligent like baboons and elephants. A buffalo comes in for a quick eyeball of the camera trap, whilst the rest of its herd can be seen drinking in the background.