How large is the clean-up crew!

How large is the cleanup crew ...
Picture Collage: Niki Merrilees (Animal Scientist – Thanda Safari) and Kevin Wade Emslie (Ecologist – WRA) installing one of the camera traps, and a portrait of a Spotted Hyena.

With the help of Sasol and the Wildlife Resource Association (WRA) Thanda Safari has secured the loan of 34 camera traps in order to research how many Spotted Hyenas are residing on or moving through the reserve.

30 camera stations are now set up and will remain in place for 30 days. The camera traps will be checked weekly and the photos will be collected. In order to standardise the survey the cameras have been placed within 1.5km2 grids. They are secured to trees or metal posts along roads and natural game paths, usually around drainage lines.

The resulting pictures are being imported into a special computer database where the individuals are identified using their unique spot patterns. At the end of the survey the data will be analysed, which will result in a rough estimate of our population densities. This will help Thanda Wildlife Management to make decisions about game introduction or relocations and about the management of predator populations.

The survey will also provide information about Thanda’s Leopard population and the distribution of smaller carnivores.

About Spotted Hyena:

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN on account of its widespread range. The species is, however, experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching.

It is the largest known member of the Hyaenidae. Their society is matriarchal. Females are larger than males, and dominate them. The Spotted Hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa. Its success is due in part to its adaptability and opportunism; it is a hunter and a scavenger, with the capacity to eat and digest skin, bone and other animal waste. It plays a very important role as part of the cleanup crew in a functioning ecosystem.


Pictures by Christian Sperka – Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Safari and Thanda Safari Camera Traps

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