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.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Two Days at the Salt Lick

For some months now I have had a memory card from one of my cameras sitting on my desk. It is effectively full and contains 3984 images of mammals recorded at a salt lick in the Tswalu Kalahari reserve in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. These 3984 images were recorded over just a 48hour period.
I've been reluctant to write a new post about these images because, well, I just couldn't think of a good story to go with the images. However I now need to use the card and am reluctant to add another 4GB of images to the hard drive on my ageing laptop. So its a case of use-them-or-lose-them - and I've decided to use them.

Salt licks (possibly better described as mineral licks) are commonly used in wildlife reserves in Southern Africa. They're particularly used in the dry winter months when the quality of the grass is often poor. I don't know to what extent the mammals really need the additional minerals or whether they just like them. But that is immaterial because mammals arrive at the lick in droves, especially if there is also water in  the vicinity. So its an interesting site for a camera-trap.

These mineral supplements usually begin as a sold rectangular block. But it doesn't take long before they get licked down into an amorphous blob, like the one at Tswalu, shown below:

There were various mammals in the area when we arrived to set up the camera and it wasn't long after we left that the first 'lickers' arrived. The procession hardly stopped for two days.

Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)
Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)
Greater Kudu ( Tragelaphus strepsiceros)
Common Eland (Tragelaphus oryx)
Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae)
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Roan Antelope (Hippotragus equinus)
Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

So what's the story here?

Well, for many wildlife professionals working in reserves like Tswalu these scenes are a daily occurence. But for the rest of us these camera-trap images represent an extraordinary view into the daily life of mammals in Africa. 3984 images in two days! Its a story that I hope our grand-children will still get to see.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Death of a Camera-trap

When we set up the camera-trap it was a leopard that I was after. One was known to live in this part of Welgevonden Game Reserve and I thought my chances of photographing it were slight - but possible. My  guests on the camera-trapping safari (see previous post) were optimistic.

I swopped out the memory card a few days later and the only images were those of a game-viewing vehicle cruising past.

However when we went to collect the camera shortly before leaving the reserve we knew we might have a problem. A large breeding herd of elephants had spent time in the area - the signs were everywhere.

And sure enough........the camera was gone. The webbing strap remained on the tree which now sported some fresh damage to its bark:

So we started looking for the camera and, miraculously, eventually found it some distance away. It wasn't in a good state but the SD card looked unscathed. This is what it showed:

The first sign of trouble........ very big trouble! Note the time at bottom right.

The elephant gets up close.......

.....but then appears to lose interest...........

......only to return again. I am making an assumption that this is the same animal.

........and spent more time examining the camera, very closely.

The camera and strap/tree then parted company (note to Bushnell...you need to strengthen the strap brackets on the back of the camera!).
The camera obviously took a traumatic, but not lethal, blow because the date/time got reset. This was the image that followed.....

......and this was followed by a few more photos that clearly showed the camera being carried by the ellie. It's being held in the elephants trunk while aimed upwards at its mouth, tusks and ears.

The camera presumably then took more body blows because the next few images show that the clock was reset again.....and again.......

 The elephant appears to have carried the camera for about a minute before dropping it - which caused it to  trigger one final time. Then it was all over!
I don't know whether the same elephant delivered the coup de grace or another one that was following. But that's fairly academic because this is what we found the following morning: