Someone pinch us, is it really 2020 already?! Time has been flying by and here at GVI Limpopo we have some exciting new projects arising for the new year.
The first batch of volunteers and interns have arrived on base and they have already been fully immersed in all aspects of the African bush. Track & sign walks, birding lectures, conservation talks, and daily game drives are all parts of their time here and they have gotten to see some really awesome interactions between species. One of the great things about volunteering with us includes jumping into our ongoing studies. Here’s an update on some of our current studies!
All the camera traps ordered for the hyena study have finally arrived and have been strategically set up around the reserve. Camera traps have been placed in areas with high scat and hyena track densities and images have proven these areas to be hyena hot spots. The reserve is about 8,000 hectares and we have seen hyena hot spots everywhere from down south to up north and it has been incredible to see how these species move about on the reserve. With these new cameras, active den sites have been located, as well as active hyena latrines, providing us with great photos to use for identification. We have narrowed down our population to 5 distinct individuals with one small pup. We will continue to update you on the identification progress and our hyena numbers!
Certain populations of buffalo in the Limpopo province and around South Africa have been identified to carry the Tuberculosis (TB) virus. TB is often spread from domestic cattle through fences and into reserves with buffalo. Karongwe Game Reserve, where GVI traverses, has bred out the TB in our buffalo in a large boma and we are now a TB free zone and the buffalo are free to roam the entire reserve again. With their release about 2 years ago, we have now started to calculate herd numbers through a small study. Each time a GVI vehicle views a buffalo herd, we count the numbers of males and females and their ages. We have come out with about 72 buffalo, and with this information, reserve management was able to bring in 5 new female buffalo to add to the population.
With your continued interest and donations, we can help these animals by studying them and ensuring the population numbers are sustainable. We thank you so very much for your support!
The Karongwe Team
Our newest carnivore, the female cheetah, has been splendid at being a cheetah. We just created new
spatial maps showing the differences between lion and cheetah core ranges. All which would not be
possible without the use of our telemetry equipment.
A few months ago, Karongwe translocated in a new female cheetah from a neighbouring reserve, bringing us to 4 cheetahs in total. To acclimate her to the new surroundings, we placed her in a boma for about 6 weeks where she could learn the smells and sounds of her new home. She is an extremely important little lady for the whole of the South African cheetah metapopulation, and we are all rooting for her success! With the not-so-long ago bottleneck of the cheetah species, translocations throughout multiple fenced reserves is necessary to diversify the gene pool. We are thrilled to update you that our new girl has been doing tremendously well. She hunts for herself, she protects herself, and she’s making Karongwe her home. Because of your generous help, we can track her daily and take information on her location, how often she feeds and how she manages to stay away from other predators. Learning her movement patterns are essential and it wouldn’t be possible without the telemetry equipment we purchase through this fund.
Cheetah vs Lion
Along with tracking our female cheetah, we also use telemetry to locate our male cheetah coalition and our lion pride each day. Recently, our science officer has begun to look at spatial maps to see how the cheetahs manage to avoid run-ins with the lions. Our new spatial maps show us how different the core ranges for each species differ. The male cheetah coalition spends most of their time along the fence line and in a more open area of the reserve, whereas the lions spend most of their time near a large dam and close to the river areas. Tracking these animals every morning and afternoon for years to follow can lead us to so much more awesome information like this!
All because of your support of this fund, we are able to learn more about our cheetahs and lions each and every day. We cannot thank you enough.
The Karongwe team
Breathe in, breathe out. Where did the last three months go? We have been a busy bunch here at GVI Limpopo. We recently introduced a female cheetah to the reserve and we have kickstarted our large-scale camera trapping project.
The new girl on the block
Just one week ago, a new female cheetah was released on Karongwe. The species overall are in decline across the world, with the IUCN Red List reporting a staggering 7100 remaining. Fortunately reserves such as Karongwe have joined forces with local conservation bodies and will not watch this species dip into further decline. The successful release of this female and subsequent mating with our resident males will add valuable new genetics to the South African population.
GVI will continue to monitor this female long after her release to gain valuable information about how she utilises the reserve, the first meeting with the male cheetah coalition and down the line, the success or failure of her litters.
Camera trapping the spotties
We have received almost half of our sponsored camera traps, with the remainder on their way from the United States. Since their arrival the team have been busy programming and testing them on the reserve, ready for the real deal. Our incredibly clever Science Officer, Kayla, has also created a grid to cover the entire reserve, which details exactly where we need to place each trap in order to avoid bias and to collect accurate data.
Once the remainder of the traps have arrived, we will deploy 42 cameras out to the reserve within our grid. These traps will be checked weekly in small groups to ensure the project is manageable. We are incredibly excited to start capturing images of the more secretive species, especially our spotted and brown hyena. Ideally, we will soon be able to locate den sites of our hyena, which will be monitored personally by GVI staff and volunteers to collect further behavioural and ecological data.
Your support of this fund ensures that the GVI Limpopo team is able to continue to be an active presence within this natural space. Thank you, thank you, we are looking forward to bringing you further updates from the field.
The Karongwe team
Thanks for stopping by! This fund will allow direct injection of funds where they are needed most – on the ground, alongside the needs of our partners, to preserve Africa’s natural spaces.
Global Vision International have been actively monitoring the wildlife on Karongwe Private Game Reserve in the Limpopo Province for the past 18 years.
Our intimate data sets have contributed to numerous scientific papers, and have directly influenced the management of the abundant species who call Karongwe home.
Most recently we were fortunate enough to be sponsored a number of camera traps to allow us to kick start a large-scale camera trapping project. Our principal aim, to better understand the prevalence of the illusive spotted and brown hyena. Our sightings of these nocturnal animals have been so few that we have not able to accurately determine their population size.
Monitoring the population trends of predators in a reserve is important for managing ecological balance in small, fenced reserves. Apex predators, such as the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), have the ability to affect the density and composition of herbivores and meso-predators within an ecosystem. Hyenas ensure an ecosystem remains healthy and sustainable, as they prey on sick and weak animals, ensuring the prevention and spread of disease while maintaining a healthy herbivore community.
The up keep of this trapping project, as well as many other smaller projects undertaken by GVI Karongwe, will rely on funds directly from this fund.
As Sir David Attenborough said, ‘Nature once determined how we survive, now we determine how nature survives.’ We look forward to sharing more stories from the field with you as we unite to conserve Africa’s natural spaces, so that her ecosystems may thrive for many generations to come.
The Karongwe team
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