Malawi: Elephants at camp

The expedition is in full swing. Over the last couple of days we’ve completed a great variety of research activities.

On the large mammals driving transects, a herd of 130 buffalos was recorded, as well as elephant, impala, warthog, bushbock and kudu. We collected a lion scat placed nicely in the middle of the road on transect no. 5 in the northern area of the reserve. We thought it was pretty dry, maybe a few weeks old, but still had a very distinct smell. Local scouts reported a kudu killed by a lion was found on 19 Sep at the lakeshore about 500 m from camp.

The hippo transect group found the remains of the kill, as well as the dried out (and therefore conserved) lion track leading into the lake. 83 hippos were counted on only one of the hippo transects, including many young ones and a newborn baby.

The team set up insect light traps and processed the findings by sorting them into size and family groups. Three also butterfly traps were installed around camp.

The primate observation teams were also lucky with tracking the radio-collared group of vervet monkeys down to do behavioural observations.

We brought back from the field fresh elephant dung samples and have started extracting all seed from them for further analysis. Many elephant ID pictures were also taken during the elephant observations.

We have caught a variety of bats every single night we ran a bat survey, noting down measurements and features of these amazing creatures of the night, took ID and other pictures & videos.

To top it all off, the elephants came by yesterday evening to visit camp. It was a bull, two females and a juvenile foraging on one of the bushes, sniffing about and stealing the banana bait out of the butterfly trap that is set up between the kitchen platform and our tents. Everybody was safe in their tents already taking to heart all the safety instructions that were given during the training sessions. The elephants had moved on when the bat trapping team returned to camp around 22:30, but we could still hear them for a while lingering about in the vicinity.

Enjoy the pictures, say more than words about the expedition team’s life out here in true African wilderness.

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