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.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Cederberg Survey

As regular readers of my blog will know I'm fortunate to be able to spend a fair bit of time in the wilds of Southern Africa with my camera traps. Over the last few years I've visited many fabulous sites, rich in biodiversity, but seldom get to spend long at any one of them.

So I've been looking for a site that is reasonably close to home where I can leave out a few cameras for many seasons - and possibly even a few years. I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for - in fact, I have no idea what I'm looking for. I just like the idea of surveying a location that's wild and remote enough that my cameras are unlikely to be spotted by anyone. I'm keen to produce a video rather than a snapshot - if you will excuse the metaphor.

One such place is the Cederberg mountains where I've recently spent a few days. My local readers will know the Cederberg as a wonderful place for hiking and exploring. It is criss-crossed by hiking trails and the odd 'jeep track' but there remain many remote valleys that almost never get visited. But the vegetation has a low carrying capacity and the term 'abundant' would not be used to describe its wildlife. So its certainly not  'big 5' territory but I'm always more interested in the smaller animals: call them the secret seventeen.

The owners and managers of a wonderful place called Mount Ceder ( www.mountceder.co.za ) have agreed to let me leave my cameras on their vast property. I've done a bit of scouting around and I think I've found, with their guidance, a few great spots for cameras. So they're installed and, hopefully, clicking away (to the extent that camera-traps ever click away) as you read this.

During my few days there I didn't get too many images but there were a few that I liked:

A one-horned Grey Rhebuck ram (Pelea capreolus) who seemed totally oblivious to my camera. These guys are fairly common in the Cederberg but one generally only sees them bounding away with their characteristic rocking-horse motion - their white tails flashing prominently.

An African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris) - and again not a particularly uncommon species. However, what is interesting to me is that it was out at midday. There could be plenty of reasons for this but I wonder whether the remoteness of the location could make them more diurnal.

The only primate in the region, the Savanna Baboon (Papio cynocephalus ursinus). Do their babies suck their thumbs too?

One of my favorites, the Caracal (Caracal caracal) - also not often seen during the day. I've been lucky with images of these beautiful cats recently but I particularly like this one. Those eyes are mean!

So I'm hopeful that this new site will produce something interesting. And I'm looking forward to getting back there on a regular basis to check the cameras and swap out the cards.


  1. Caracals are amazing critters....nice pics!

    Curious...do you have access to camera trapping areas where crocodiles exist?

  2. The long term monitoring sounds like a great idea. I can see the appeal.

    I've been fortunate enough to have camera trapped more or less continuously for a year and a half at Tygerberg and after some time some interesting trends seem to appear: http://remotecamera-sa.blogspot.com/2012/03/finnally-final-report-from-tygerberg.html

    I also noticed that Caracal where much more active during the day than one might expect. My theory is that at Tygerberg they may rely heavily on the Four-Striped Grass Mouse, which is very common there and active during the day, for food... Maybe the same is true at your location?

    Looking forward to see your result!

    PS. The Grey Rhebok with only one horn sounded familiar, so I had a look and interestingly enough the male at Tygerberg also broke his horn: http://remotecamera-sa.blogspot.com/search/label/grey%20rhebok

  3. The Caracal is excellent. It looks like it's thinking evil thoughts. Any idea if the Caracal will try and predate the African Wild Cat? Are they seen as competition, ala our Wolves and Coyotes?

  4. Thanks for the comments guys.
    Trailblazer: I don't currently have access to crocodile waters but there is a croc farm very close to us. Its very tourist-oriented and seems to specialize in weddings and kids parties??. However I've never been there since its not my kind of thing. What do you have in mind?
    Henry: I remember your great report well - I'm sure it influenced my decision to tackle a long-term project.
    Randomtruth: I couldn't see anything in the small amount of literature I have that suggests that Caracals predate on the Wildcats. However, we have a Caracal living in our area that is believed to have killed a number of domestic cats around here. I've no doubt that African Wild Cats are better survivors than domestic cats but are certainly within the target prey size of Caracals. Even though the Caracal is up to 3 times the size of the AWC they will certainly compete for smaller prey e.g. rodents and birds. Interesting question. Thanks!