TEAM 8 Lajuma dec 10-12 2011

After our school visit and a picnic in Blouberg Nature Reserve it was down to serious work for the international Earthwatch team! As part of the primate and predator project cameras are used to detect the various animals at Lajuma. Pairs of cameras, triggered to take sequences of 3 pictures when they detect movement have been placed in specific locations. Our task was to visit these cameras, check their batteries and positioning (some get displaced by animal interference) and change the SD cards. Much excitement as we looked at the SD cards in the notebook computers on site and saw the different animals which had visited the spot where we were standing. These included bushbuck, baboon, warthog, porcupine, aardvark,civet, genet and leopard. Back at base the IMG_8690 (640x480)photos were downloaded and filed, and we attempted to identify the leopards seen. Each leopard has a unique spot pattern enabling individual animals to be identified. Imaging work continues daily along with other tasks like scat analysis and identifying animal spoor in specific transects identified with GPS. After intense heat and brilliant sunshine for our first few days, the mists set in followed by persistent drizzle which made spoor identification challenging and one transect was completely obliterated by a convoy of IMG_0201[1]holiday makers driving to their farm! Another intrepid group braved the rain armed with machetes to carry out essential trail clearing to allow Pete to follow his troop of baboons unhindered. Our dampened spirits were raised as we celebrated Louis’s birthday with a delicious chocolate cake made by Retha. The halfway point in our trip has come all too soon and on our ‘rest’ day we went on a tour of the local area, visiting various craftsmen and women. Louis now faces the challenge of getting his large carved crocodile back on the plane to Iowa!

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