“Welcome to Biosphere Expeditions Namibia. Now hurry up and get off the bus so we can go collar a leopard!” is what Group 6 arrived to. Amazing, and true. We caught a leopard in the mountain lodge box trap during the break between groups 5 and 6, and this makes the third leopard we’ve captured in a box trap with Biosphere Teams this year.
Several months now we’ve been watching a leopard on the camera traps up north that appeared to be an adult male. He has a very distinguishing feature; he is missing a portion of his upper right lip which exposes his canine teeth on that side. It makes him look quite fierce to us humans, and because he was so unusual we were keen to catch him. Lucky for us, he is now L055 in Vera’s study! (Previous teams who caught and collared L051 and L052 might ask what happened to L053 and L054. Those were caught on other farms within Vera’s study area.) Four leopards in just over a week…now that makes for a busy Biosphere Expeditions scientist!
Thanks go out to Martin and Renate, previous team members (different teams) that sent care packages along with two team 6 members. Speaking of care packages, thanks also to Team 6 members Siggi and Eliza for being Biosphere Expeditions couriers. They have brought along new kit for us—three new pairs of Swarovski Optik binoculars and a new range finder. Thanks Swarovski Optik for providing such great equipment that is so useful for us! Those 10×32 binoculars are great for seeing the small details on animals!
Group 6 has also been able to observe the rhinos here at the bush camp water hole, which is always a treat. It seems like I may mention it quite a bit here in the diary, and that’s because it’s an infrequent event. Yet when they arrive the entire camp goes quiet, and it never ceases to be a near reverential experience. It would seem we have a group or porcupines that has taken up residence in the Bergposten trap. So far we are 4 for 4…four days, four porcupines. One even decided to move in for the day, and the group eventually had to leave him in the trap with the doors open because we was just too comfortable. (I’d had to do the same with a porcupine over the break as well)
Tuesday was the first day for telemetry lessons and elephant observation, and Team 6 has already figured out that it’s not always easy to find a herd of elephants! The morning group looked for over two hours, before finding all nine of them taking a mid-morning siesta under an unlikely and very small tree. As we left them two of us who were looking were able to see one of the large cows lying down under a bush just a few meters away. It is my first time seeing one of the mature elephants lying down. Speaking of which, another team saw three mature giraffe lying down mid-morning, again another first for my stay here on Okambara. It just illustrates how the animals are reverting to their “energy conservation” mode.
Speaking of which, the weather here in Namibia has turned HOT during the day, although it is still cool at night. We’ve amended the daily schedule and the volunteer teams now start at 07:00 to take advantage of the cooler morning air. I think Team 6 hit their stride today, their second full day in the field, when they left early for both their morning and afternoon activities. We love keen volunteers!
Team 7 if you are currently deciding what to pack, make sure to bring plenty of high factor sunscreen, a hat, and long sleeves, which are now essential for the long hours in the blazing sun. You’ll still need your sweater/jumper at night, however.