Monday, 21 May 2012

Night Drives

Night drives.
Afternoon game drives often end as the light is failing, when we switch to using a high powered lamp to spot game as we return to the game lodge for dinner.
The protocol involved in using a lamp is very strict i.e. one should not shine the light directly in the eyes of any animal, whether that be prey species who could be dazzled and unable to spot a predator approaching, or alternately a predator whose presence, could be detected.
The game drive 'tracker', normally perched on a seat mounted on the front of the vehicle, will be responsible for 'lamping'. He will use his experience to gauge the correct and ethical use of the lamp dependant on the circumstances at the time, to ensure there is no interference in the nightly events.
Although night driving is great fun, there are not so many visible clues as to where animals may be. During the day, trackers and guides use a variety of signs and sounds to help find animals, which makes night driving a little less reliant on skill and more reliant on luck, but is nonetheless great fun.


Written by Will Fox
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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Camera Trapping - Its Great Fun


What is a camera trap?

You may well of read or heard about the camera traps we use as part of our leopard research, but our safari guests often ask me “exactly what is a camera trap?”
Our guests are able to be involved with our work in conservation and in particular leopard research. So here is a brief explanation with a few of the CT pics that we've captured over the years for good measure.
First lets put the name in context. I know that it sounds menacing, but a camera trap actually just takes pictures of any animal that walks passed the camera.
In fact a camera trap is nothing more than a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor of some sort. 
Although trail cameras have primarily been developed for locating deer for hunting in North America, the same devices can also be used by researchers to record the movement of animals in remote locations.
In our case we site camera traps along game paths for several months at a time and only visit those cameras to upload the pictures for ID analysis and data capture back at base.
That may sound easy but it isn’t always. There is a skill in thinking like a predator and then selecting the place, height, mounting and sometimes camouflage, to ensure you get some good shots. 
Having said all of that; there is one other point about camera trapping. It’s great fun. Even after all these years its still a thrill to know that you’ve set a camera just right and got some great shots of leopards. Our safari guests join in the fun and often have competitions to see who can get the best picture. It’s a great way to be involved and experience the bush. Who said that research couldn’t have a fun side.

I have uploaded a free eBook of a selection of camera trap pictures to our website. Just click the link to view.

Written by Will Fox
CEO On Track Safaris