Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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Today marks the start of our fall fundraising tour! The theme of this year's tour is "Wheels for Cheetah Conservation". Our field vehicle in Kenya has given us over 400,000 kilometers of service to each border. It has served us well, but for the past couple of years the service of the old truck has been giving us too much grief. A pledge through Cheetah Friends Europe has launched the campaign with a grant of 10,000 Euro (USD$12,000). It is our goal to raise a total of $45,000 to purchase, insure and run a new field vehicle for 2013.
Some exciting news from the field today.... our robotic goat had a positive "capture" of two male cheetahs. The location is the same as the live goat positive "capture" two weeks ago. In between the live and robo goat we placed a scent for two weeks. OK at this point the study is preliminary and the statistical analysis still needs to be conducted... but I am so excited that our robo caught cheetah attention.
More poop talk....
Our scat collection in Salama is going well. Nelson has nearly 150 samples. We will not know if it is all cheetah until he begins the analyses. He is adding DNA testing into his analysis program to assure that even the dry samples are really cheetah. This will be also serve to be a pilot for ongoing DNA studies to enable us to know the relationship between neighboring cheetahs and to know the importance of corridors for cheetah genetic exchange.
The cheetah scat team has been short a member – at the time that we were intending to take Floris into the field he began to develop hip problems. First he was hesitant to sit at the fecal site, then he began to limp. He was put on "kennel-rest" in early June while the rest of the team hit the field. An x-ray showed arthritis as the cause of Floris' discomfort. He is under medication and has been on "kennel-rest" all of June and July. Our whole team – especially Ginger – really miss him.
Erica is now in her fifth week of camera trappping. The majority of triggers on the cameras at most sites is hyena and hoofed stock (including domestic). We have witnessed how hyena can pull the thorns away from the protective boma around a goat. How much interest the jackals have for our RoboGoat. Bushbaby seem to like our predator decoy. White-tailed mongoose scent mark over all the other scents.
This weekend the cameras caught the first cheetahs. A female with subadult cubs investigated the live goat bait, and checked out a camera or two.
When I left the Salama camp this morning I was excited about heading up to Samburu for the coming week to work with our staff in the Meibae Conservancy. Morgan and I stopped to drop supplies with the other researchers who would be remaining in Athi-Kapiti for game counts, camera checks and poop searches. We picked up the fresh scat (poop) that was collected from Machakos Ranching so we could get it in the freezer and we stopped for a few supplies on the way into town.
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