Camera traps, and how they change our understanding of the Nocturnal World:
What are these camera traps? Camera traps are remotely triggered digital photographic devices that allows us as conservationists to set up and photograph shy, elusive and nocturnal creatures. They work on a battery pack, and have motion detecting capabilities, sometimes with a flash device as well.
Jacque Fourie, our resident Kaingo Game Reserve Manager and all round Good Guy is responsible for the placement and collecting of data captured by these devices.
Each year we build up a collection of very interesting photographs of hard-to-see wildlife to add to our already impressive mammal list.
Refer to the images above...
Image 1: Aardvark
Here we have the Aardvark, Orycteropus afer. Sometimes called an Antbear. These largely nocturnal mammal feeds on termites and ants and are very hard to see. Very occasionally, on a cold and wet day you may encounter one in daylight on its way to or from its burrow. It will be quite accurate to say that even seasoned safari goers rarely see or have photographic evidence of this animal. Looking for their tracks and then laying an ambush with the camera trap gave us this stunning photograph.
Image 2: Porcupine
Another interesting but somewhat more visible nocturnal animal is the Porcupine, Hystrix africanaustralis. Unmistakeable with its long, sharp quills, this photograph was taken near its burrow. Porcupine tend to utilise old aardvark holes for resting and breeding purposes; the evidence of their habitation being discarded quills and gnawed bones they collect in the veldt.
Image 3: White-Tailed Mongoose
The White-Tailed Mongoose, Ichneumia albicauda, is the largest and arguably shyest of the mongoose family. It tends to be strictly nocturnal and feeds on insects, rodents and other small prey. It will also readily scavenge, eating discarded scraps of leopard or lion prey.
Image 4: Bushpig
Now for a personal favourite. The Bushpig, Potamochoerus porcus, will move around at dawn or dusk where not disturbed, but where human activity necessitates it, these animals turns into ghosts… They will leave their feeding sign and tracks just about everywhere, but try and look for them and you will be caught short. The camera trap did a good job on this large boar (male) with his distinctive mohawk hairstyle.
Image 5: Leopard
Every now and then we get a funny photograph as well. This leopard, Panthera pardus, clearly had no idea that it was being snapped from mere inches away when it sniffed the camera trap!
Technology does have its place in the conservation of our wildlife. Without these digital camera traps and the photographs we get of these animals, the only evidence we would have had of their presence would've been their tracks in the dust.