I came to Cape Leopard Trust to complete a 3-month internship as part of my continued South African Game Ranger career enhancement. My goals were two-fold, to become involved in the on-going research and to assist with the eco-school camps. I quickly learned how to set up and breakdown the campsite for school groups. Trying to teach kids how to put up tents can be challenging.
Demonstrating how to put up a tent
Learning about the various animals of the Cederberg was enjoyable as it allowed me to provide presentations and answer questions from students about animal behavior and habits.
Taking the school groups on educational outings tested my own level of fitness. In time I became a better rock climber. The job requires lots of endurance for the long hikes with students. My favorite activity became teaching the students about tracking skills and then taking them on expeditions around the campsite and river areas looking for tracks. Prior to coming to CLT I had never used a GPS. I learned how to program coordinates from collared leopards and caracal data into a GPS and lead students to kill sites to collect scientific data.
Having fun showing a student which bone we had found at a caracal kill site
The students as well as I liked checking the camera trap photos to see what species of animals visit the area. I even learned the fundamentals that go into setting up a camera trap. Lastly, I was able to improve my 4x4 driving skills through the search for Titus, the leopard, by checking the caller signal on a his trap utilizing VHF telemetry to monitor for trigger status. I loved the quiet morning drives into the karoo. I know some of the time that Titus must have been watching and gave me at least a paw wave.
Off to check the trap in Frikkadel, the CLT Suzuki
The most fascinating work to me involved assisting Quinton with the setting of a variety of leopard traps: single closed-end cage traps, walk-through double door cage traps, and foot hold traps (some baited). Leopard research is essential to continue to learn more about these valuable apex predators.
I would like to thank the Martins’ for providing me with the opportunity!
The CLT Education Project is looking for an intern to help with camps during both camp seasons in 2013. Please email [email protected] for more details.