Today we continue our series of interesting and unusual photographs from the recent camera trap study conducted across Londolozi.
Some photos were comical, and some left us scratching our heads as to what was happening out of frame. Camera traps are a fantastic way to keep tabs on an area that we can’t possibly watch all the time, but there is still some frustration in our inability to swivel the viewfinder to be able to take in a whole scene. Maybe a future survey could involve a 360 degree camera?
I guess some of the appeal of the bush is the whole mystery aspect to it, so you probably don’t want to know everything that’s going on. We’ll have to make do with these brief snaps in time…
A black-backed Jackal wanders casually past, its head down on the scent-trail of something. I have never seen a black-backed jackal at Londolozi, although there have been one or two sightings during my time here. Apparently they used to be prolific, and nobody knows why the side-striped jackals are now more prominent, but it has been theorised that changes in grass length owing to fluctuating wildebeest numbers might have contributed to it.
A Klipspringer; an antelope usually only seen up on the rocks of the outcrops dotted around Londolozi. To be fair, this particular camera trap was placed in the saddle between a small outcrop and a much larger one, so it was a skip and a jump to get back onto the boulders for this individual. The big question for many of us here about these antelopes revolves around their dispersal; with only a set amount of habitat for them, what happens to their young when they are forced out of their parents’ territory?
These impala are running from a small waterhole in the Manyelethi riverbed in the north of Londolozi. What they are running from, we can’t be sure of, although there was a pack of wild dogs denning nearby at the time, so that’s always a possibility. When impalas run from wild dogs, they often go into a distinctive stotting motion, which none of these individuals appear to be doing, so maybe they were just spooked by something harmless.
At first glance this hyena looks like half its jaw has fallen off, but on closer inspection it is clear to see that it is in fact a large piece of skin and bone that it is carrying. It’s hard to tell exactly what it has got, but it appears to be part of a spinal column.
Like the civet in the last Camera Trap post, there are far more porcupines out there than we actually see. Their tracks go back and forth on the roads and we regularly find their diggings. Tamboti trees are a favourite of theirs to nibble on, but one unfortunate individual wasn’t paying attention recently, and was made a meal of by the Kashane male leopard. We’ll put out a post on this in the next few days.
Each time the data was downloaded off the camera traps, a record had to be kept of when it was done. A chalkboard turned out to be the simplest means of logging this info on the cameras, and trainee ranger Nick Sims sacrificed his knees for the day by squatting up and down for the cause…
The ostriches of Londolozi need no introduction, particularly the female from our Valentine’s Day 2017 Video. This isn’t her, this is a male (identified by his black plumage, not brown), but we hope it was the female he was searching for.
Wildebeest. Funny looking creatures. We don’t view them after dark as a spotlight would impact them too much, but clearly the camera trap piqued this one’s curiosity. This particular station is situated down in the deep south of the reserve in the grasslands, and is a particularly good place to view these antelope (yes they are antelope, despite looking like cows).
An African Wild Cat, one of Londolozi’s rarest carnivores. Only caracal have been seen fewer times here than these little felines in the past decade, but recently there have been a number of sightings to the east of the Londolozi airstrip, which probably means that one or a pair have taken up residence.
Hyenas were a worry at the start of the study; they’ve run off with many a camera before, which is why each camera was securely fastened with cable ties and thick wiring. Off the top of my head I can’t remember if hyenas got the better of any, although one or two of the stations had definite tooth marks in the camera cases. This hyena thankfully just had a brief look then continued on his way.
Even the animals with the shortest eyesight had their curiosity aroused by the cameras. Unless this white rhino bull was simply grazing and walked headfirst into it. That’s probably the likelier explanation!
And another behemoth comes in close. One can see how green the grass is in the foreground; this camera station was close to the river, so I think this hippo just happened to be grazing its way past and blundered straight into the infra-red beam that triggers the camera and flash.