We all thought we were seeing the end of COVID 19 and that life was due to take on a semblance of normalcy. Now the new variant has taken the limelight and added restrictions have been imposed. We carry on more determined than ever to make progress on all our projects.
The ALERT team, whittled down to just three staff, has steadily carried on with the many tasks before them. During the period covered by this report we have collared two more lions and two more elephants and have been able to track them both remotely through satellite and on the ground.
Finding the animals on the ground means driving to an area closest to where the last satellite point was transmitted and then going in on foot and tracking the animal using the VHF function of the collar. By using a directional aerial it is fairly straight forward to locate the collared animal although it could mean a strenuous 5 kilometer plus walk, down into gorges, up steep slopes down into gentle valleys – and then reverse the process to the vehicle. The team is assisted by two undergraduate attachment students and a National Park ranger when carrying out darting and collaring and when locating the animals to obtain demographic data.
On the 11th November 2021, the team accompanied by the two attachment students and a Park ranger, located a large heard of 64 elephants (this large number was made of a number of family herds). A mature male was successfully darted and collared and revived without incident. Another bull that was collared In March has travelled 180kms outside of the park, wandering to other Protected Areas, forestry areas and through settled subsistence farming land. The route taken is showing us the possibility of traditional wildlife migratory routes. When these are positively established we will lobby, together with other conservation NGO’s, to have them recognized as such so that they can be kept open.
Last week we attended an Elephant Management Meeting and next week on the 5th we have a tree-planting day set for a juniour school located on the park boundary.
Keep safe everybody. Keep positive and strong and don't give up!