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…