11.12.10

Some Tracking Technology Options

The Namibian Ministry of the Environment and Tourism (MET) has formally approved our application for permission to conduct this research and to release animals that were previously confiscated by MET, PRU or police on the Mundulea Nature Reserve for this study.

In the pilot, we are seeking to gather the following basic data on a few individuals:
  1. Daily foraging periods of activity and sleep
  2. GPS locations, track, speed and range of movement during (nocturnal) activity
  3. Photographs and fauna samples of locations frequented by the pangolin (determined from the GPS data or TF telemetry and animal trackers)
  4. Posture data (if possible)
Our basic procedure will involve:
  • Location of a few pangolin specimens (via manual trackers) on the Reserve
  • Tagging 2 dorsal scales with both a custom designed ‘combination’ GPS unit and also a more standard RF telemetry transmitter.
  • Animal release, preferable where captured.
  • Real-time occasional monitoring of animal’s location by interrogation of the ‘combo’ unit’s GPS system over a cellular SMS connection, or as a back-up manually, via RF telemetry using a Yagi aerial
  • Recapture of the animal when device batteries are low, hopefully after about 2weeks to upload GPS logged data and change device batteries
  • Final recapture to remove our logging devices and to release animals unharmed.
A few RF telemetry tags with 1-2km ground-level range have been purchased from Biotrack (see www.biotrack.co.uk/ , now a part of www.lotek.com), specially adapted for attachment to a pangolin scale with an extra ground plane antenna added to increase range and a longer-life battery, see photos below of their single-celled PIP3 two-stage transmitter with AG386 (magnetic switch attached) and of longer life, more powerful TW-3 transmitters that have now been designed for our pangolin project and produced by Biotrack, see below.










Sketches of two possible attachment options suggested by Sean and Sarah at Biotrack are below.








A ‘combination’ GPS-logger plus GPS-SMS real-time data reporting unit has been specially designed with our guidance for this application and the constraints of attachment, by an electronic expert in the specialist company CatTraq (http://www.mr-lee-catcam.de/cattraq/ ), see photo below and one attachment option. This combination unit’s design for pangolin tracking has been arrived at after many iterations between Paul and the electronics expert, Juergen Perthold.
 

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