Fieldwork travelling made comfortable by Avis!

Fieldwork travelling made comfortable by Avis!
Published: 02 October 2017

In all professions, time is a valuable commodity… Hiking into remote and hard-to-reach locations to deploy and service our field cameras can be a time-consuming (albeit enjoyable!) part of our responsibilities. A capable and reliable off-road research vehicle, therefore, is a valuable asset that helps to get our researchers closer to their camera locations in the rugged and mountainous terrain of the Boland study area, enabling them to be more productive.

We’d like to share some photos from two recent camera visits and we expect two types of reactions to these images –delight at the beautiful nature scenes reachable from our proverbial doorsteps in the Winelands, or envy at the privilege that our researchers have for calling these vistas their “office” for some days of the month…

Our trusty Toyota Hilux 4x4, sponsored by Avis South Africa, thoroughly enjoyed feeling the gravel beneath its tyres on both outings. Against the tranquil backdrop of the Bergriver Dam, the team drove along old forestry contour roads and then hiked in along a mountain biking single track to the spot where they placed a camera trap. But, the dam’s low level was a stark reminder of our dependence not only on our mountain water catchment areas but also the climate… A visit to the same camera just a couple of weeks later lifted our spirits – not only because of the light rain shower but also because of the beautiful leopard photo we downloaded!!

The other camera location was along a hiking trail in the Groenlandberg Conservancy. It was a glorious day in the Elgin Valley and the team was filled with expectation en route to the camera trap. All along the trail were signs of animal activity - duiker spoor, leopard scat (VERY old and crumbly), signs of porcupine foraging for tubers followed by some porcupine droppings and, right next to the camera, what looked like a genet latrine...

The team replaced the batteries (partially subsidised by Energizer South Africa) and memory card and reset the camera. Although there were sadly no spotted cats on the SD card, we share photos of a Klipspringer, Grysbok and Porcupine (notice Grabouw's lights in the background).

There was a feeling of slightly disappointed after having to return to the bakkie 'empty handed' (into leopard photos) but this feeling dissolved into thin air as we sighted three Klipspringer running and jumping just a short distance from us. They 'posed' for quite a while - just long enough to sneak a quick paparazzi pic.

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