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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Studying Biodiversity to Protect the Cheetah

As 70% of Namibia’s game inhabits farmlands, assessment of the farmland ecosystem for long-term habitat viability for the cheetah and its prey is part of CCF’s primary, ongoing research. Some of the activities carried out by the CCF Eco Team include monitoring weather, game and prey habitat preferences and bush encroachment, to name a few. Here is the first report from CCF's Ecologist Katherine Forsythe. Enjoy!

Cheetah Census Camera Traps – We finished waterproofing all the cameras.

Biodiversity Study – The cameras are continuing to be moved on a 10-day basis. They have one more move after today before we plan on pulling them out early November (which will make total of 12 weeks).

Rhino Tracking –All the cameras seem to be working fine (photo). We have been taking the Eartwatchers out in the past week and it seems to be going very well. They seem to find the activity very interesting and educational. We are still having a few issues with radio signals at the moment (signals dropping out or switching directions or very weak in all directions) but we have managed to get at least one good fix on rhino 4 this week. Picnic Dam is now completely dried up.

Swing gates – CCF continues to develop the swing gates concept as a reliable and cost effective tool to protect game-fenced farmland structures from damage due to burrowing/digging animals by excluding predators from an enclosure whilst allowing the free-range movement of smaller mammals. The Team continued to check for and fix new holes around fences.

Bellebenno Giraffe Project – Aymeric and Ryan are going to start collecting feeding ecology data from the giraffes. Matti had a tree identification session with Aymeric last week, and with the help of a guidebook and some prior teaching from James, they will be able to identify trees.

Wild Boys –HiFi has continued to be seen around the Elands Pen. We have a spare camera trap also along the fence line to see if there is another male hanging around but haven’t had any sightings (or pictures) other than HiFi (photo).

Bitter bush eradication – We are starting to design an experiment to test different eradication methods for bitter bush on the Big Field. I have talked to Johan (our Farm Manager) and he has given me a list of different techniques he would like to try and use to get rid of the bush, including manual removal and a few different herbicides.

Game Counts – We had a busy week of field counts with the Earthwatch crew here. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. We have more circuit counts and a 12hr Bellebenno waterhole count planned shortly.

I think that is about it for this week. Stay tuned for the Bellebenno report coming soon!


Kat Forsythe

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