The vast majority of animal activity at Londolozi is often left unseen. Despite boasting some of the densest animal populations in Africa, we still spend a great amount of time searching for and tracking down animals to view them, leaving them unattended for most of their days and nights. Especially the nights. Camera traps are an easy way to get a glimpse into these animals’ worlds and, if set up in strategic spots on the reserve, can yield some interesting sights.
What is a Camera Trap?
A Camera Trap is a remotely activated camera often triggered by a sensor that is able to record video and take photos without the photographer needing to be present. While a “camera trap” might sound menacing, it actually does no harm at all to wildlife. The name is derived from the manner in which it “captures” wildlife in the sense of a photograph. This allows the animal behaviour to be captured at unusual hours and over longer periods.
This is nothing new. We have made use of camera traps in the past. Former Londolozi guide Andrea Campbell attempted to catch a seldom seen Cape Clawless Otter on camera in 2015 while Pete Thorpe investigated the happenings around an old elephant skull in 2020.
The Panthera research team also conducted a camera trap survey across the reserve in 2018 which produced some incredible images, who can forget that once-in-a-lifetime image of a young Tortoise Pan Male taking down an nyala right in front of the camera trap!? However, apart from following the wild dogs at the den, the camera trap gathered some dust over the last couple of years and I thought it would be rather interesting to get it set up again.
Where to put it?
I didn’t know where to start. So I took a vehicle out myself one afternoon and headed into the south-earthen parts of the reserve. The deep underlying goal was to try and capture a leopard and so I decided to drive the Maxabene Riverbed and search for a good game trail that crossed the sandy riverbed with the likelihood of one walking along. I eventually found one. On the banks, a leadwood tree was rooted at an intersection of two game paths leading to a nearby watering hole. It was also conveniently right on the boundaries of multiple leopard territories; an area where we could possibly capture the Senegal Bush Male, Maxim’s Male, Three Rivers Female (and her youngster) and, at a stretch, the Ximungwe Female and her youngster.
I mounted the camera and hoped for the best…
While my efforts did not yield a leopard, there were some interesting visitors. I was expecting some more activity in the nighttime hours but wasn’t let down when it came to the elephants. A successful first chapter in the camera trap chronicles. Stay tuned for more…
Thank you for this report Chris of dusting off the Camera Trap. I’m looking forward to eventually seeing some interesting behavior be animals that pass by, or if we’re lucky, some amazing big cat footage.
Interesting article, Chris. I wonder who else is passing your trap in the future.
Cant wait for the Chronicles #2 !
The Nyals take-down photo was incredible!
I laughed out loud when I saw the giraffe legs.
I love the idea of accidental captures. Very cool! Thank you!
The camera traps will be interesting over the next few weeks or months if you keep them up that long. The night shots will be exciting to see. I can’t wait, thanks Chris.
Chris the camera is really something special. Here were we stay in a reserve, they showed us there was a leopard walking on the camera early in the morning hours. You never know who is walking around and that is a genius way of finding out. Thanks for inspiration of putting the cameras back up to see what’s going on in certain places of Londolozi.
I love these camera trap adventures! We’ve even tried the same at home – and we’ve never gotten a leopard either, Chris (that’s be pretty shocking in California!!) I look forward to your continuing efforts!
Love the camera trap. So sorry we won’t be back this year but hope for the next. We certainly enjoy the blogs and virtual safaries.
An interesting blog Chris. Sort of neat to see what is going on during the night hours. Thanks for sharing.
I remember Andrea’s camera 📸 trap, hopefully this can be a more regular feature perhaps in places you don’t visit as frequently ?
A serval or caracal…
Cool Chris, can’t wait to see what future “chronicles” reveal!!