Schools out!

It’s just been the school holidays – woohoo! Schools out and so we have had a couple of weeks where we haven’t been at the local schools either. It has worked quite well for us as we had three new joiners arrive at the end of September, not to mention Lottie joining us at the start of September!

Common Duiker eating
Common Duiker at our bait site

Jeanette joins us as our new Farm Trials Assistant, and will be all things farmers and all things volunteers! She is already getting stuck in and getting to know everyone. We also have Hannah and Katherine join us. Katherine is working with reptiles out here for seven months, so she will be a great addition to the group sharing some of her knowledge with us, no doubt already experiencing chorus’s of “What’s this?” and “Is this one venomous?”! It will be great to have some new dimensions to our animal conversations! Hannah is with us for three months, getting stuck in all over as a volunteer. Lottie, who joined us at the start of September, is here for nine months, also as a volunteer as part of her undergraduate course.

Warthog tucking in
A grinning warthog on his knees to eat at one of our test sites

We have kept trekking on the electric fence surveys over the last month or so. It gets increasingly warmer, increasingly earlier so these are never just light strolls! Our baseline data collection for Guard Sounds has also continued in the crop fields and we will hopefully be able to see some changes in behaviour when the sounds are also played.

 

One project that has taken more of a front seat is the test of using a predator model to scare away raiders. The site we are using has had a shortage of baboons unfortunately, but we still have vervet monkeys, common warthog and common duiker coming and eating the bait, and the test has been carried out on them. After collecting baseline behavioural data we are now revealing the giant stuffed leopard teddy from behind a camouflage curtain and noting how the animals react to seeing the dummy leopard! Some of the vervet reactions can be quite amusing, screaming and scampering in scared disarray!

Vervet visiting our bait site
The view from our hide at the predator model experiment.

We have also had our land owner social recently as some of you may have seen on our Facebook page. It was great to get some local collaborators and some new faces together and share our work thus far and have the opportunity to hear about some other ideas people have heard may work. Fingers crossed we will be able to give back some more ideas soon that can help too!

Litter pick!
32 bags of rubbish later!

We have currently got the first of our Earthwatch groups stop in to get a taste of the PPP’s work. They spend most of their trip at Lajuma but also include a few days down with us. It is always great fun having these groups come out and sharing experiences and ideas from global perspectives! We will be taking them into the field to carry out some crop damage assessments and also some snare sweeps.

 

Check in with us again soon for more news!

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