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

After almost most of the team took half a day off on sick leave, everyone had recovered by Thursday for the last day of activities.

Hendrik, Astrid and Ariane went out to check the newly set box traps and became the luckiest team members this year when three cheetahs appeared on the road in front of them. Two cubs with their mother, so we think that these were the ones from the picture we discovered three days ago.

When Hendrik, Astrid and Ariane arrived at box trap number 4, they found the gates down and were very excited when Jesaja told them to come close and have a look inside. A tortoise had been captured 😉

Our last full day of the expedition finished with an inventory and packing up before we all went out for our last 2012 expedition sundowner.

Kristina, Joerg and I, and everyone else involved in the expedition this year, would like to thank everyone who joined in and helped us this year. Even though the leopards eluded us on the later slots, we have achieved much and we could not have done so without your help. Kristina and I will stay on for a few more weeks to pack up and try to catch another leopard. The full results of the expedition will be written up by Kristina in the expedition report, which should be with you within the next 6-8 months.

For now we have put a selection of pictures below.

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Please do stay in touch and thank you very much again for your help. You could have chosen to spend it on a beach somewhere, but instead you came to help Kristina and Joerg with their work out here, and we all really appreciate this.

Best wishes to everyone and we hope to see you again on an expedition, some time, some place.

The Biosphere Expeditions team

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

We spent the last couple of days moving two box traps and then removing lots of thorns from ourselves. The traps are now set up where we spotted the big leopard on the camera trap pictures.

On Saturday we celebrated Gigi’s birthday with a cake in the morning. In the afternoon it was the job of Hendrik, Astrid and Ariane to browse through the camera trap pictures and we were all very excited when they found cheetah cubs with their mother, taken by on of the traps set up in the north east of our study site (see sites below for the picture).

This morning Christian had his first experience of a baboon grabbing his shoes while releasing it from one of our newly set box traps. No leopard so far…

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

Just in the time with a little rain and the sound of frogs, our seventh and last group arrived, then bravely survived the training and on their second day of activities found two fresh leopard tracks. Even though Joerg, Doug and Jan weren’t on the tracks & scats activity, they also found a fresh leopard and two hyaena scats. Well done everyone.

Have you ever had to change a tyre with elephants looking on? That’s what happened this afternoon. I also just received a text message telling me that we have another juvenile hyaena in our trap at Bergposten. It is probably the young female we caught a couple of days in that spot. Trap 3 is occupied by another porcupine as I write, so we are now busy releasing all these animals.

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

Apologies for the late farewell to group 6, but after the power party, we had a power cut at base after a heavy storm. Even though we did not catch a leopard during this group, we were all very excited on Thursday afternoon about our findings on the camera trap pictures. Another adult leopard is hanging around in the north and we are now aiming to catch that one with the help of group 7. Wish us luck and thanks for all your help group 6 and thanks for the all the laughs we had in the evenings 😉

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

Saturday morning Kristina, Jo and Mike had one of the rarest sightings you could have in Africa – a pangolin. Although covered in scales and looking like a reptile, a pangolin is actually a mammal. It is mainly nocturnal and feeds on termites and ants.

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Rare too over the last few days are our carnivores. But our box traps are surrounded by hyaena and leopard tracks, so we hope it is just a matter of time – fingers crossed!

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

Two days after we activated all the box traps and baited them with fresh meat, our juvenile friend, the hyaena, came by for a third visit to box trap 3. It seems he wanted to come for a fourth visit too last night, but unfortunately the box trap was already occupied by a porcupine (that we released early the next morning).

Yesterday evening we had a “mains power party” to celebrate the arrival of power to our research site (see below). Mike is already missing the sound of the generator and was confused by all the bird sounds he could suddenly hear outside his chalet. Malcolm had a “knock-out” experience at the waterhole as was knocked clean off his chair by Helen (by accident, she claims). Apparently the animals liked the shenanigans and came by in big numbers.

Power party
Power party

Lunch time we now spend sitting in the shade and taking siestas as the midday sun is hot.

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

After a week’s break, we’re back in full swing again with training sessions and now data collection. With the days getting longer, we have shifted breakfast to 06.30 and start activities soon after. While I am writing this, everyone is out in the bush, searching for our elephants, tracks & scats and activating the box traps. Let’s go get and and collar the adult female leopard who is roaming around in the North-East!

Training session
Training session

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

As usual, we spent the last day of the group with a re-org, cleaning cars & equipment and finishing off the data entry, followed by sundowner with a spectacular sunset (see pictures below). Thank you everybody for your great support. We collected important data and had fun whilst doing so….it’s been a great two weeks with you. Safe travels back and hopefully see you again soon. We now have a week’s break before group 6 starts on 21 October.

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

The sun now rises at 06:15, so on Tuesday we left camp at 06:00 for our vehicle game counts. When group 2 passed box trap 4, there was a young male hyaena in it, this time one we had caught three weeks earlier. This was the sixth hyaena capture within five slots. It seems there are at least four individuals roaming on the farm.

Sunrise

It gets pretty hot during the day now and we observed that even the elephants are now taking a siesta. Our “man power” group 1 volunteered to cut thorny bushes on Monday afternoon and Bob came back looking like he had been in a serious fight. Thanks for the effort!

Yesterday morning we changed the SD cards of most of our camera traps and in the afternoon Anja, Suse and Susanne will have the pleasure of looking through at least 3000 pictures.

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

The juvenile hyaena we have caught in a box trap twice already seems to like them. Last caught on Tuesday, she was in the box trap again Wednesday morning. We let her go and then decided to remove the trap from Bergposten.

Anja and the two Susannes found an emaciated kudu at one of our waterholes on Wednesday. By Thursday nature had taken its course and the kudu had turned into a carcass, already half eaten by predators. We decided to set up the box trap next to it (see below), but no action so far.

Stephanie, Eva, Michael and Julia were very lucky when surveying the waterhole on Thursday. A honey badger came along, but realised after a few seconds that human eyes were watching and disappeared. On their way back they also witnessed a Southern pale chanting goshawk catching a snake…another great sighting!

Goshwak & snake
Goshwak & snake

Bob had the job of cleaning a box trap yesterday; to make up for it we went out for a night drive after dinner 😉

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