We have mentioned many times the anticipation we feel before downloading camera data from field cameras. At present we only have a limited number of cameras in the field to monitor selected sites while we focus on other research activities. So when Quinton joined us for two days in the Boland for a tour of our study area, we were particularly thrilled by a sequence of photos captured by a camera in the Wemmershoek basin.
The camera had only been active for a week, but we were still hopeful for some interesting shots. We had positioned the camera in front of a waboom (wagon tree, Protea nitida) used as a scratch post by resident leopards. In the Cederberg, leopards do not generally use this species of tree as a scratch post, so Quinton was quite intrigued when we told him where we were taking him. On arrival we noticed that there were a multitude of relatively new nicks and scars covering all the branches...
As soon as we inserted the memory card into our digital camera and looked at the bounty of images on the viewfinder, it became apparent how the stately old waboom came about its battle scars. It seems that the Wemmershoek twins, offspring of the captivating female leopard BF1, thoroughly enjoy having a wrestling match in its branches!!
Apart from the pictures being very entertaining, we are particularly glad to have evidence that both cubs are still alive and well. With our previous round of data collection there was only evidence of one cub on the pictures. These two cubs are now around 7 months old and it seems that BF1 is a superb mother holding a very good territory.
Some more good news from the Boland is that our camera in Bain’s Kloof was not destroyed by the fire in January. The fire came through Bastiaanskloof Private Nature Reserve in the dead of night and the camera could not be collected in time. Driving through the blackened landscape a week after the fire, we feared the worst and expected to see only a melted heap of plastic where the camera had once stood. However, when we approached the spot we realized that a patch of vegetation in a 3m radius around the camera did not burn at all!! The camera was triggered by the heat of the fire, and took a couple of fantastic shots of the passing flames.
There was only one leopard image (of the resident male called Basjan) on the camera, taken before the fire during December 2011. After the fire the number of grysbok images increased, probably because they are now taking cover in the only few patches of vegetation remaining in the sparse landscape.
Until next time, greetings from the Boland
Anita & Jeannie