Team 4 is on the ground and all trained up. They are the first team I ever recall gathering SIX scats on the training day. So we’re off to a great start.
Tuesday was our first full day in the field, and it was, well, a very full day. We’ve borrowed a box trap from the IZW scientists (thanks to Christian, too, for letting us use it since it was on loan to him) and set up a second trap at Bergposten, where we keep seeing an uncollared male on the camera traps. Last year we caught and collared a male (L055) at Bergposten, so if we catch this other guy it might be very interesting to see why and where he is in between two other males’ territories.
Vera did the box trap training in the field as we set up the Bergposten Trap, now very creatively called Bergposten #2. So, for those of you who have been here before, Bergposten #1 is in the same spot it’s been for all teams this year (north of the water hole and not under the tree like last year).
Bergposten Trap #2 is behind where last year’s trap was, West of the waterhole and more deeply hidden in the bushes. We placed it along a trail where we’ve seen lots of leopard tracks on their way up from the water hole. We also found a fresh leopard scat there, so now all we have to do is wait to see whether the leopard we’ve seen on the camera traps can be convinced to go into our nicely set up box trap.
Today, Wednesday, was a more “normal” day in the field. We had the usual box traps teams (they were all open and nothing was in the traps, and in the afternoon the team changed the bait meat in the CS House trap). Tracks and Scats #5 was where we walked this morning (5 scats and 2 cheetah tracks), and in the afternoon we observed the elephants (found them and saw six of them just after they’d left the Frankposten water hole.
Sue, Volker, Renate and Jan volunteered to be the “all day” team, who went out into the mountains for a mixed activity day of checking the Frankposten box trap in the morning, then checking the mountain camera traps, changing the SD cards and installing fresh batteries. After a lunch break in the field, they did a waterhole observation at the lodge, then replaced the meat in the lodge box trap. Then they managed to get not one, but TWO flat tyres, which they changed in record time we were told. They walked into the lapa with big smiles on their faces, so it was a hugely successful day to get so much done and have a great time too. Well done!