An important part of the data collection process on project PEACE is remote camera trapping, which is used in our case to estimate diversity of mammals, as well as to monitor the prey species available to predators in our Namaqualand study area.
There is always a sense of great anticipation when we download these images and in a recent batch of photographs from our camera grid, we came across a scenic photo of a caracal. On closer inspection, and much to our pleasant surprise, we noticed that the caracal was collared and ear tagged, with the unique ID telling us that the photographed cat was NCM1, the first caracal captured and radio collared for research purposes as part of project PEACE!
At the time of his capture NCM1 was a subadult weighing 8.9 kg (photo 1), whereas based on the recent snapshot we received of him more than 6 months later (photo 2), he has grown into a ample sized tomcat!
As researchers privileged to study shy and cryptic species we rarely get a chance to see our study animals, except if we capture a sample of animals for radio-collar deployment. As we recently experienced, camera traps not only provide data for answering the project’s research objectives, but also very occasionally allow us an opportunity to follow up on the elusive critters we are studying!