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Friday, 20 May 2011

The CCF Ecology Team reporting!

The wet season is just about over here at CCF. We have received over two times the season average rainfall and we are still having the occasional showers (complete with hailstones) despite the fact it is mid May! It is definitely starting to cool down, with temperatures down to 10 degrees Celsius (about 52 F) at night, so hopefully that is a sign that the rain is just about over and winter is on its way.

We have had a quite month with our last Earthwatch group leaving the start of April. However, things are starting to pick up as we come into our busy season. We have just welcomed a group of five new student interns and are getting ready for the next Earthwatch group in late May.

On the Ecology front, our Polytechnic student Gustaf has been going out recently to our big field and conducting transects to establish the extent of the invasive Bitterbush. Little is known about this bush, though it is believed to be unpalatable to herbivores and could be out competing grass species, thereby decreasing the grazing habitat for antelope on the big field.

Polytechnic student Gustaf and working guest Sue measuring Bitterbush along transect in CCF Big Field.
Rob and myself have recently attended a workshop on the use of Footprint Identification Technique (FIT). This is a technique that is being developed that can distinguish individuals from photographs of their footprints. FIT has already been successfully used in a number of species, including black rhino, tapirs and mountain lions. Learning about FIT was very interesting and this technique may have a lot of potential for use for CCF, not only with the cheetah, but also in monitoring our rhinos.

Bat eared fox
We have started off May’s game counts with a bang, our first field count seeing a leopard, aardwolf, bat eared foxes, eland and plenty of springbok with calves. Hopefully, this will mean the start of an exciting month of game viewing here at CCF!


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