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, 23 July 2012

Buffalo Bonanza!

I have to confess a warm feeling towards our African Buffalo (Cyncerus caffer). That's probably because I've never been chased by one. I've tended to see them from the safety of a vehicle or, if on foot, from a sufficiently comfortable distance (with plenty of climeable trees close by). So I enjoyed the last few weeks where I saw them on a few occasions and recorded them on my camera-traps.

The above photo was taken from our car as we drove through the Kruger Park. The late afternoon sun gave us some great photo opportunities - but I was happy just to soak up the peaceful mood. It was hard to believe that these peaceful bovids could be classified as part of Africa's "Big 5" - and believed by many to be the most dangerous mammal in Africa.

The mood was slightly different the following morning when we went for a walk with armed rangers. A  couple of old bulls suddenly crashed through the undergrowth giving us something of an adrenaline moment. But they soon ran off and we were reminded that the African bush is not the place to be too complacent.

I picked up buffalo on a camera-trap a few days later at a water-hole. I'd set the camera low down to hopefully catch some small carnivores and, as luck would have it, recorded mostly legs of herbivores. I just like the feel of this one...

And then a few days later where the bufalo seemed  to be a little possessive about the water resource:

And lastly, just a couple of days ago, where a small herd peacefully wandered past one of my cameras:

So, its been a couple of good weeks for me and buffs - and I still like them.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust

The lyrics from the chorus of Queen's famous song rattled around my  head as I searched in vain for my camera. I'd set it up at a well used water-hole near South Africa's famous Kruger Park recently. My companions watched my back as I stomped around, but I knew the chances of finding it in one piece were slim. We'd seen 3 of the 'big 5' in the area and knew that leopards were only a few hundred meters away so I didn't venture far into the thick bush. I'd attached it to a decent sized rock, sprayed it with pepper spray and disguised it as best I could, but it was now gone.

I'd swopped the memory card out the day before and had found these images, but who was the likely culprit?

An African Civet (Civettictis civetta) had wandered past the evening before. These civets are certainly large enough to damage a camera but I really doubt this was the perpetrator.

Our baboons (Papio ursinus), love tampering with camera-traps but, in my experience, haven't ever stolen one. They'd walked past this one repeatedly the day before without showing any interest. With a leopard around I guess they had bigger issues to think about.

This Spotted Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) had shown a lot of interest the day before but had seemed strangely wary. I guess it was the pepper spray that had kept him at bay.

However, my gut feel tells me it was these guys:

This image was from another camera in the area since they hadn't drunk at this spot the day before. The area around the water-hole was still wet from all the splashing. This was a large breeding herd with a number of young testosterone-filled bulls pushing each other around. What makes me think ellies were involved was that the rock and disguising logs appeared to have been flung around. That's not usually trademark hyaena behaviour - especially with pepper spray on them. Elephants are known to have been responsible for the demise of many a camera-trap.

So if you're ever in the area and see a Bushnell Trophy cam hanging in a tree, please get it down and phone me. My number is on the camera and the pepper spray should have worn off by then. The last few images should make for interesting viewing!

New Ticks and Old Friends

I've enjoyed watching birds for as long as I can remember but have never considered myself a real 'birder'. I guess one of the reasons for this is that I've never been good at keeping lists of birds that I've seen. So I've surprised myself by becoming a bit obsessed with getting camera-trap images of species that I've never captured before.

I've recently spent some time in great wildlife areas of South Africa and have picked up some new 'ticks' as well as recording images of old friends.

A Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo). These little carnivores are pretty common in the northern parts of South Africa, but since I live in the southern parts, I don't see them often. I'd set up the camera here to attempt to photograph a large python that apparently lived in the hole behind the mongoose. I had no luck with the python but was happy to get some images of these little guys. Mongoose are not averse to attacking snakes but I guess a python is way out of the Banded Mongoose league.

A cropped image of another mongoose, but I'm embarrassed to say I'm not sure whether its a Large Grey Mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) or a Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea). They are both  slender with a black tipped tail and if I had a good sense of scale it should be easy - since the former is much larger. However I'd guess its a Slender even though my references suggest that this species has a 'bushy' tail.

A Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula). Also, not a rare buck but one that doesn't live near me.

Elephants are difficult to miss but I've never actually got a camera-trap photo of a youngster like this.

Ant then a few shots of mammals that I've often encountered:

A Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas). I doubt there is anything wrong with his leg. I think I just caught him in mid-stride. I think these guys are pretty cool but then I'm not a stock farmer. They are responsible for massive stock losses and are the subject of some intense debate and research at the moment.

A Kudu cow (Tragelaphus strepsiceros). They always look so gentle - I'm amazed they survive against all Africa's large predators.

This Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis), also known locally as a Ratel, appears to have caught something. The preceeding five photos on the camera showed him dashing around in a cloud of dust.