Wish Day and Our Last Supper
Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
33Trip End Jul 17, 2013
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Where I stayed
N/a'an Ku SÍ
Since it was my last day at the farm (well tomorrow or today, wasn’t sure at that point, but I’ll get to that later), I got to pick what activities I wanted to do. I decided that I would do Meerkat/Mongoose walk, research, and game count for the day.
Before bed last night, it was decided that it might be better for me to arrive in Windhoek on Saturday and spend only Saturday night with Sophia, so I waited and finally heard that that was indeed the case. I saw Chacha and changed my transportation booking. Disappointed that I won’t be leaving tomorrow… was ready to get into town and see Sophia again, but at the same point I am glad to spend another day with my group of people here.
Abraham went with us on this walk. He walked around for a bit, and ended up a small distant away at one point. When he came back all three of the animals were standing up and anxiously waiting for him to return. It’s so amazing the bond and respect that all of the animals have for the African men that work at the wildlife sanctuary.
We had muffin break (oranges today) and then went back to work. I was with Flo on research next. We were going to remove camera traps and set them up in different locations. The original two locations were about 2 kilometers apart from each other in a riverbed. The new locations were near the captive leopard enclosure. The research team knew that a wild leopard had been in the area, and it was speculated that it was a different male from the large adult male that has already been identified. All locations were chosen based on male leopard tracks (smaller than the ones of the male that had already been identified). Based on spot patterns, much like a human’s unique fingerprint, if a picture of the leopard’s side is captured on the camera traps, the leopard can be identified as either the same or a different leopard. Duke Matt at Neuras had showed me how to easily find unique spot patterns, so I already had a good idea of how this worked.
We walked to the riverbed from the farm. Because the riverbed is an ideal daytime hiding spot for leopards, Flo asked for volunteers to walk to one of the cameras, making noise the entire way so the leopard would not get spooked, and retrieve the camera trap. I, along with Fiona and Brittany, proceeded with Flo to the camera trap on the opposite side of the riverbed. We made sure that when we came to an area that looked like an ideal spot for a leopard to hide, we got out of the riverbed and walked on the bank.
I had made sure that I avoided anything to do with baboons during my wish day, but of course that seems to be impossible no matter what precautions I take. The riverbed that we walked crossed the location where the junior baboons are taken to forage on their walk. Of course we couldn’t have missed them… that would be too convenient. And they definitely did not neglect to see us. We made it to the camera trap without them wandering towards us, but on our way back we were joined my at least 3 baboons (I do not know the exact number… I simply walked forward, ignored them, tried not to let my fear radiate too much, and prayed they would leave soon). I asked Brittany if they were all gone, and they were. Thankfully they didn’t test bite or jump on any of us. I really was not prepared to run into them today.
We met back up with the other half of our team and headed toward the leopard enclosure. Once we got there we had the task if finding a couple of locations to mount the cameras. Due to the nature of the picture we want to capture with the cameras (the side view of a carnivore), the best view required the camera to be mounted about a meter from the ground, on the opposite side of the road as the enclosure, with an angle of about 45 degrees from directly facing the enclosure (note, the angle measure may be a bit off and may vary, but it is consistent with what I observed on several camera trap set ups).
Lunch: veggie and bacon wraps
Supper: Lodge - Cheese and corn rolls, shrimp, filet, yummy ice cream and brownie for dessert.
We went on a game count to a newly acquired part of the farm. Eventually the 8 female wild dogs will be released there as well as other animals (including rhino that the sanctuary is going to bring in!). One of the main points of the game counts is to make sure there is enough prey to sustain the carnivores that currently live there plus those that are planned to be introduced. We then viewed camera trap images after going on the game count. We saw one of the male leopard that has recently begun living at the farm. The pictures were good enough for identification, and it was amazing to see that progress on the work we were doing was being made. Got back to the farm to realize that we were all locked out after supper… We were all dressed quite nicely (I was in a maxi dress) and ended up having to climb the fence to get over to our rooms and tents.