Pangolin Survival Strategies in Dry-land Savannahs: a Pilot Study in Namibia
Bruno Nebe & Paul Rankin
Use of Camera Traps in Animal Conservation & Research
A survey was made of different models and makes of the camera traps (trail cameras) that are available, mainly for the surveillance and game observation markets. These are ruggedised cameras which can automatically take photos or videos when triggered by infrared heat or movement detection, both in the daytime and at night using infra-red illumination. Some models enable still photos to be sent immediately over the Internet or via a GSM-picture message to a remote observer. There are several potential applications in the Mundulea Reserve, from improved security to increased interest for Turnstone Tours visitors, from game counting to animal habits and health monitoring.
Pangolins are usually asleep in burrows during the day, only emerging for a few hours to forage at dusk or at night. Even if a pangolin’s active den is revealed from its spoor, then a long vigil through the evening and night is needed until the animal emerges, not returning for some hours. Of course, if the presence of an observer is smelt or heard, the animal may change its behaviour patterns. Just knowing the foraging hours of a particular pangolin helps its tracking and behavioural observation enormously.
Thanks to a generous donation by Mr. Gijsbert de Lange, three different models were purchased for our project for an assessment and comparison of their features, detection sensitivity etc:
Emiel de Lange, a pre-university, gap year student joined the team at Mundulea during October and November 2011 (Read his personal account of his time in Africa and work at Mundulea on his blog, http://emielkaza.blogspot.com/) Emiel tested these camera traps at different waterholes in Mundulea. The Scoutguard and Spypoint cameras performed well (the latter gave the best quality images), but some white-out and black-out and sensitivity problems were experienced with the third, the Uway camera. Unfortunately, due to limitations of the local MTC GSM network in terms of coverage and MMS message handling, the Scoutguard's remote transmission features have not yet been exploited. Readers may like to enjoy below a sample slide-show from hundreds of high-quality photos that were captured each night. The latter could form the start of a Mundulea image database for other animal research and conservation knowledge.