Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

The temperature has dropped again over the last few nights with ice on the waterholes early in the morning and our water pipes freezing, so there is no water first thing in the morning. The Land Rovers have also refused to move before they have warmed up, but teams have still managed to leave camp by 08:00. On Thursday morning a caracal was found in box trap number 1 (a quick congratulations to the team from the last slot who set this trap up before they left – their third capture, truly box trap setting gods:)). The wildlife vet came to sedate the animal so that samples could be taken, and the usual efficient and professional organisation came with her. She arrives on scene with helpers (some also qualified vets) and a tent is set up with a table for the animal to be taken to once it is sedated. A clock sits over the proceedings and everyone works quickly to ensure that the animal is sedated for the minimum amount of time. Our team members likened it to everything from the set up used by Medicine sans Frontier in the field, to the arrival of a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) team.

CSI field lab
CSI field lab

Caracals are known to bruise their faces when they are in box traps, something that they quickly recover from, but our animal had damaged its lower teeth, a very rare happening, so a decision was taken to remove it to a large enclosure where it could be watched for some days before release.

One team was very fortunate in finding some big drag marks crossing their path, and on following them into the bush they found the remains of an impala that had been killed by a leopard.  It was a very fresh kill, which means that the leopard will be back to eat more. A decision was quickly made to move one of the box traps to this location and set up a kraal around the kill so that if the leopard wanted to get to the meat, then it would have to go through the box trap and hopefully be captured. The team worked hard with the very spikey acacia bushes to create a kraal that the leopard could not get through. This morning we found the tracks of the leopard coming back to have a look for its kill but it hadn’t tried to reach it  – we are very hopeful that it will ‘take the bait’ within the next few nights…

Update from our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia

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