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.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Who's Killing the Penguins?

I've written before about work that I've done with the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus).

This is the only species of penguin breeding in South Africa and, sadly, its numbers are dropping rapidly. Some of the  known causes of this are the depletion of its food supply, damage from oil spills and loss of breeding habitat. Fur seals are known to predate on penguins at sea but it was sad to hear that something was killing the penguins at the Stony Point colony in Betty's Bay - the only colony in the region that is actually growing.

Most of the carcasses were only partly eaten but it was estimated that, potentially, hundred of birds had died this way. So I offered to install a couple of camera-traps to see if we could identify the culprit.

Most carcasses were located near a thick stand of Rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) which suggested that this would be a good place to start looking. 

There were a couple of well used animal trails leading into the thicket so we installed the cameras a few metres into these trails. It didn't take long before the suspect was 'caught'.............

These aren't great images but they're quite good enough to identify a Caracal (Caracal caracal) as the likely culprit.

The cameras didn't catch much else other than some Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)  - who had better also watch out for the Caracal........

......and live penguins that wouldn't be in that thicket if they knew what was good for them:

In hindsight, getting images of the culprit was the easy part. What to do with them is way more tricky. I love the idea that we still have Caracals in coastal villages like Betty's Bay but I accept that ongoing predation of the African Penguin, now classified as endangered in the latest IUCN Red Data list, is a big problem. Translocating the cat (if it can be caught) is a possibility but it has also been suggested that it gets fitted with a tracking collar. The authorities can then monitor its movements and chase it away from the penguins when it gets too close. That's the idea anyway........

1 comment:

  1. It's cool to see camera traps being used like this. :)