What is BushCam Adventures?

BushCam Adventures attempts to share some of the amazing images, stories and insights that I've collected during my camera-trapping adventures.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Our Rarest Rabbit

I was privileged  to spend a few days last week with members of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's  Riverine Rabbit Programme. For those of you that don't know, the Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) is one of our rarest mammals and is listed in the Red Data book as "critically endangered". The number of remaining rabbits is not known but is no more than a few thousand, and possibly less. I won't attempt to describe what great work both the Endangered Wildlife Trust and their Riverine Rabbit Programme do, but would urge you to look at their website or the Riverine Rabbit Programme page.

With the rabbits being nocturnal the researchers don't see these rabbits often so I offered to take some cameras into likely riverine habitats to see what we could find. I wasn't encouraged by what I initially saw: thick chest-high scrub with very few clearings. Not the easiest place to set up cameras. Nevertheless we used the few small clearings that we could find and also set some up some cameras along the farm road. The first night didn't produce anything interesting but then.......

Success! The distinguishing line on the jaw, white ring around the eyes and and a lack of any white on the tail left no doubt that we had a Riverine Rabbit. And over the next few days we got more...............

Everyone was hugely excited. Not only that we'd obtained these rare images but also that many of them were obtained at dawn - indicating that that these guys were also crepuscular.

The cameras also picked up the following carnivores:

A caracal (Caracal caracal), likely to be one of the major predators of the rabbit.

African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris lybica). Its not known whether this cat would take an adult rabbit but presumably the young rabbits would be very vulnerable.

So, a succesful few days!
Many thanks to Christy Bragg and the other EWT staff for allowing me to be part of this great project.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

In Search of Elephants

A friend and I recently spent some time in the Knysna forest with the aim of getting a camera-trap photo of an elusive forest elephant.  The managers of the area, Sanparks (South African National Parks) admit that there is at least one elephant in these forests but are reluctant to say much more. Gareth Patterson in his book The Secret Elephants believes there to be at least a handful of individuals, including some youngsters. However many people believe that elephants no longer inhabit these forests and that the occasional sightings are some kind of elaborate hoax.
These forests, better described as our Southern Afrotemperate forests, are vast and magical - and so different to most of Southern Africa. They're inhabited by reclusive animals and filled with strange (to me anyway) plants and trees.

So, in between hiking through the area we put out a few cameras, hoping for the best.
 Herewith some results:

A Bushbuck ewe (Tragelaphus scriptus)

Some Bushpigs (Potamochoerus larvatus)

A Large-Spotted Genet (Genetta tigrina)

But did we, or the cameras, see any elephants? Sadly not. We saw some signs of recent activity and a ranger we met on the trail warned us of a bull in musth that was in the area.
Perhaps its better that we didn't get any photos, although I was secretly hoping that some good shots might make me famous! However the Knysna forests are such a special place that it would be tragic if they were overrun by humans  intent only on seeing an elephant here. These wonderful creatures deserve to be left in peace.