By Gabriella, Veterinarian
Whether it’s an interesting sighting, a vehicle breakdown, or wildlife conflict situations close to the reserve, every day something unexpected can happen in the bush. It keeps us very busy, but to carry on systematic and precise scientific research can be challenging. Life in the reserve is the opposite of repetitive and predictable, and we often need to drop what we are doing and reschedule the activities. This also applies to the volunteers schedule, that needs to be adapted to all the events and management on the reserve. With an almost full house, I am glad to inform you that the volunteer project is getting popular. For nearly three months, you might see us reinforcing the fence, pulling out thorn apple, collecting data from the camera traps data, observing dogs, elephants and much more. It will be a pleasure for me to let you know what the volunteers will be up to on a daily basis if you are here at the reserve.
I am very proud to say that volunteers did a stunning job with a brand-new community project: the creation of a children’s story book about endangered species. They presented the first one last week at the Tsetsebwje primary school, and they are working on three more stories. We all know about the importance of educating the new generation to respect animals, and I am sure that this project will inspire children in this respect. I am organising small fundraising to print and distribute this children book at the Tsetsebjwe primary school, and copies will be available in the office shop for all of you who would like to contribute in the future to this small but significant project.
Volunteers help us with numerous projects, and in return, they learn about conservation and wild areas management, while driving around the reserve and enjoying this beautiful area. They even get to see animals that are hard to spot while on a drive, like genets, porcupines and even wild dogs, thanks to their contribution to the camera traps project. During the last weeks, volunteers have been lucky to see the wild dogs and to help with the behavioural sampling. To do proper research on this species is a challenging as well as a rewarding job. The satellite collar is giving us a proper mapping of the pack’s movements, but to have the batteries last more than a few months, we can’t have a real-time idea of their location. Leaving the chance to find them by luck and leaving me the duty of keep tracking them at times with the old-style antenna.
During the last few months, there have been many dog sightings, and I cannot be at all of them, if you have any video or pictures that you might have would be of great help for the research. Please contact me directly if you wish to sand any file, it would be very much appreciated.
We will soon deploy other two satellite collars, but since this expense is not in the reserve budget and the cost is entirely covered with donations, for those of you who wish to assist to the collaring, we will ask for a donation to cover the vet fees and to finalise the collaring. The shipping of the collars was unfortunately delayed, but we are expecting them to be at the reserve at any time now and will be pleased to inform you about the date as soon as possible.
I look forward to updating you on these exciting upcoming event!