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.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Camera-trapping Workshop

I  recently ran a camera-trapping workshop in the Waterberg region of South Africa. The wildlife reserve I used had a good variety of mammals but no lions, elephants or buffalo. So it was safe to walk around and set up our cameras as long as we kept a look out for the resident rhinos and hippos.

The management of the reserve had pointed out the carcasses of a wildebeest and a couple of impala that had been struck by lightning - which seemed like a good place to start. We also chose a couple of water-holes, rhino middens and interesting looking spots in some riverine vegetation. But we had less than 48 hours to get some good images so luck did need to be on our side.

Our first evening was very windy and cold which is seldom good for camera trapping. The results from the cameras confirmed this and the results were disappointing. However the following night was way better so we were cautiously optimistic that we might have bagged something interesting. This is what we got:

An African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster) on a piece of the carcass. I've always known them as competent hunters so was surprised to see them scavenging a carcass.

But I wasn't surprised to see these two around the carcass:

A Brown Hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) who enjoys nothing more than some ripe wildebeest and an African Civet (Civettictis civetta) who didn't hang around too long.

An then we were fortunate to get:

A Caracal (Caracal caracal) who seemed to find the camera's flash a bit much........

......an Eland (Tragelaphus oryx) who wandered past on one of the few occasions when the sun shone.....

....and a Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) with its characteristic 'toilet-seat' marking on its rear end.

I'd also spent the night before the workshop on the reserve and had picked up this Large Spotted Genet (I'm not sure if it is Genetta maculata or Genetta tigrina )

We also got unexciting images of giraffe, warthog, kudu, impala, zebra, jackal, wildebeest, bushbuck, baboon and vervet monkey. So I guess that wasn't bad for a weekend of 'trapping'.

Thanks to the management of Jembisa as well as my 'students'. I had a lot of fun!


  1. Incredible!

    Are Brown Hyena's more common in that area that Spotted or Striped?

  2. Thanks Trailblazer. In my experience the Spotted are more likely to be seen in the large wildlife reserves. The Brownies are more free-ranging and can be seen fairly often in the drier parts of southern Africa. We don't get the Striped Hyena this far south but do get the smaller Aardwolf. Sadly all these guys get persecuted by stock farmers even though there is little scientific evidence that they cause much damage.

  3. Wow, great collesction of species! I'm starting to miss the days of getting anything but Bushbuck/Bushpig... :P
    Based on what the latest Smithers' field guide tells me that would be a Genetta maculata (Central African Large Spotted Genet). They seem to have drawn the line around Durban, anything North is Genetta maculata and South is Genetta tigrina (with a small section of overlap in KZN). Hope that helps :)

  4. Thanks Henry. Does Smithers suggest there is much difference, physically, between the two?

  5. If I remember correctly they said it is very difficult to tell them apart without a series of morphological (and molecular) tests, and on the "field guide" level looking at the distribution map is the easiest. I'd be interested to read the study that underpins this... I'm sure there are minor differences, but I don't have many good quality images of genets from up north to compare to the ones down south.

  6. Thanks Henry. I'm pretty sure I have images of both 'northern' and 'southern' genets but I've never noticed any difference - but then I've never really looked for differences.

  7. A memorable and educational weekend (from one of the 'students')... I also noticed the caracal's eyes were closed, I thought they couldn't see the flash?

  8. Amanda, the Caracal image was taken by the new "white LED" Reconyx. Like the IR cameras it has a slow flash and exposure so I guess this guy blinked as it went off.