Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tabby joins our research team.

As part of our leopard research program, we recruit well qualified and passionate young folks to join our team. Here our latest recruit, lets you know a little more about her introduction to our Leopard research team. And for those of you yet to join us on safari this year, you'll have a chance to meet Tabby when you're here.

To begin I will attempt to set the scene by telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Tabby, I'm 25, born and bred in Somerset
​, UK​
.  The passion for wildlife I have harboured since childhood
​,​
 has led me to some exciting corners of the world and just as crucially
​,​
 many classrooms.  Having completed a 
​M​
asters in 
​C​
onservation 
​B​
iology at the University of Cape Town
​,​
 focused on human-wildlife conflict
​,​
 I got in touch with INGWE Leopard Research asking for an internship.

Three months later I was sat on Will and Carol
​'​
​​
porch
​ (stoep)​
 talking leopard conservation surrounded by nyala, warthog and porcupines.  After my introduction to INGWE Leopard Research and On Track Safaris in Hoedspruit, Becky and I carried on to Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve near Lydenburg. 

6000 hectares of wilderness glowing under the setting sun and fading into blue as the mountains stretch on to the horizon is a sight to behold.  Thaba Tholo is not only beautiful but bountiful; whilst making the steep descent down into the valley some of the reserve's famous kudu granted me a sneak preview of what was to come.

On my first morning training began in earnest, in between explaining camp logistics Becky and Jo taught me about the reserve's wildlife, tracking, and how to negotiate the 4x4s over the mountains and through the valleys. Then there were the camera traps to service and the database of photos to get to grips with. I couldn't have asked for better teachers, both Becky and Jo have put their all into my understanding of the bush and I hope to continue learning from them in the coming months. 

On the 6th of July three volunteers: Alanna, Gabrielle and Donna, joined us at the conservation village. Since their arrival we have been at work servicing camera traps taking us to the furthest corners of the reserve. We have also sorted through thousands of camera trap photos affording us glimpses of some of the more elusive creatures on the reserve including caracal, serval, honey badger, brown hyena and of course leopard. There has also been time to practice tracking and brush
​-​
up on our birding.  After work we've enjoyed having sundowners down by the dam with the pied kingfishers, cooking on the open fire, card games and marshmallow fuelled film nights.

Next week I will be reporting in more detail on the wildlife we have been recording in the reserve but for now all that remains for me to say is thank you for reading the first instalment of this blog. As more people hear about and support INGWE Leopard Research the project will continue to take step after step towards ensuring leopard roam the same landscapes we call our own. Thank you. 

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