Updates by Mika Vermeulen
It was incredibly exciting news when we found a camera trap image of a leopard in the Karoo National Park – the first record for this National Park. The Snapshot Safari – South Africa study has funding until the end of 2020 and the camera traps will be kept in field for the entire duration of these upcoming years at the Karoo National Park. Since the finding we have serviced the camera traps again, but have no new record of the leopard, the hopes are to find it on our next service in February 2019.
We are always finding interesting photos on our camera traps. Especially of the elusive, mainly nocturnal species, such as brown hyaena, aardwolf and aardvark. Coincidentally, one of our camera traps was placed at a jackal denning site and we have a sequence of images, spanning a few months, of the pups interacting with one another, their parents and their environment. On our cameras in the Mountain Zebra National Park there is a set of images that capture a pride of lion at a buffalo carcass interacting with jackal.
At the moment we have 33 study sites across the entirety of South Africa, including protected areas of all size and management status – i.e. SANParks (e.g. Kruger and Camdeboo National Parks), Provincial (e.g. De Hoop and Molopo Nature Reserves) and Privately managed (e.g. Bergplaas Private Nature Reserve and Tswalu Kalahari Reserve). Because of the size of the study we have partners at various institutions throughout the country.
We really need to garner public interest in the Snapshot Safari – South Africa project, because citizen scientists are vital in making this project successful. Citizen scientists can help us by classifying the camera trap photos from our study on the Zooniverse (www.zooniverse.org) platform. The photos are scheduled to be online and ready for classification in December. We use the classified images to answer various biodiversity related questions. There are a number of postgraduate students from Universities across the country that will be using the camera trap data. It is therefore imperative that we get the help of the South African public. Zooniverse is an interactive platform and it is fun to use as you can choose which of our 33 study sites you would want to help classify at.