We’d given the traps at the lodge a “night off” (really an opportunity for the mother and cub leopard not to be bothered if they were still in the area recovering), and Sunday morning Team 2 reset the lodge box trap. John, Valerie, Lesley and Jesaja had quite some work because of the leopard caputre, and we’d actually split into two box trap teams for the task. The trap that caught the mother leopard was brought to Vera’s base for repairs, and we collected the release box out of the field as well. That leaves us three box traps still set (Frankposten, behind the farm owner’s house and the one at the lodge).
John and Lesley set out to (not) find the elephants, frustrating because once again the team knew where they were, but there was no track close enough to view them. Lynne and Valerie checked box traps in the afternoon (empty), while Glenn stayed at base to do data entry.
Thursday’s “Black Mamba” vehicle game count team re-encountered a monitor lizard on their route (thanks Valerie for several nice pictures added to this diary). Lynne had a “magical” encounter with the elephants at Boma, when she single-handedly recorded elephant behaviour. Other pictures are of Team 2 working in the field.
We’re having some maddening problems with the Bushnell cameras. One, the display stopped working. Another, it seems to like to spit out the batteries right after the volunteers set it, so we don’t get any pictures. Super frustrating since these cameras were installed in the mountainous area of Okambara, so that means furtherst away from base camp.
The good camera news is that our Tracks and Scats team found a leopard “marking” place (it’s a place with a lot of defecation, so marking is not the proper term but that’s what we’ve nicknamed it). We set a camera trap up there and once we get the cameras working properly, then we’ll see who’s coming around.
Other good news is that our partner scientists have flown over the study site, collecting data from the collars of several animals, and our female leopard L074 from Monday was on the download. We were able to see her movements after her immobilisation, and as predicted she laid low until her immobilisation drugs wore off, then climbed the ridge behind and walked off down the ridge.
Team 2 leaves today and it’s hard to believe it’s already been two weeks. It’s been a very productive and interesting two weeks. Thanks for your flexibility and eagerness to get out into the field and do whatever is necessary, including Valerie and Lesley taking a bag of intestines up into the mountains and dragging them towards a trap in order to entice a leopard. Not all of our work is pretty or “nice”, but thanks to all of you for tucking in and getting it done. My favorite Vera quote this week: “Is it my imagination or is everyone getting out into the field freakishly early?”
Team 3? See you on 7 September after the week’s break. We have a box trap that’s ready to be placed back into the field, lots of animals to be counted and elephants whose feeding behaviour we need to record, so pack your sunscreens, water bottles and get ready to roll up your sleeves and get down to the business of catching more leopards!