I am now back in Botswana and enjoying the sunshine (and the odd heavy rain shower). It has been fairly hectic since I got back as I try to organise everything that I need to do over the next 6 weeks. It is going to be a busy period but hopefully a very productive one as I attempt to collar 10 zebra and conduct an aerial survey on the Makgadikgadi Zebra Population.
I did get a little distracted from the task in hand by a phone call on friday from Glyn, a friend and fellow researcher, asking if I was keen to go on a trip to the CKGR to try and find the wild dog that he had recently collared with a GPS collar. This was too tempting to turn down and so we quickly organised ourselves and left town. The reason that we left in such a hurry was that someone had flown over the CKGR on friday morning and had got a good positional fix on the collared dog using VHF tracking. Glyn then wanted to find the dog on the ground and get a visual to check that all was ok and also download the GPS data stored on the collar.
At 6 am on Saturday morning we woke, tracked for the dogs and were fortunate to receive a signal for them from less than 2km away. We followed the signal and soon found the dogs walking up Deception Valley, one of the best spots for wildlife in CKGR and a uniquely stunning area. While following the dogs we saw them interacting with Gemsbok which are too big for them to hunt in daylight. There were 9 dogs in total and they suddenly started to run up the valley and we struggled to keep up. We could only see 6 dogs as the other 3 charged ahead and by the time we caught up, all of the dogs were feeding on a springbok which had obviously been brought down by the lead 3 dogs.
For the remainder of the day we tried to stay near to the dogs as we had asked a vet to come down to help us try to place a VHF collar onto another one of the dogs. The vet arrived and we were able to successfully collar a female dog which will make it possible to track the pack of dogs at all times. When we then found the pack the following morning and confirmed that all of the dogs were well and heading off hunting then it was the culmination of a successful trip.
Once back in Maun I returned to concentrating on my research and started to plan a short trip to the Makgadikgadi and back to my camp at Leroo La Tau. I went down on the 17th and arrived in an area that I barely recognised. There is so much grass around that the riverbed in front of Leroo is unrecognisable from the end of last year when all of the grass had been trampled by the Zebra herds and all that was visible was sand! A remarkable transformation which shows the power of the rain here in the Kalahari. There is also news that the rivers in Angola and Namibia which feed into the Okavango Delta are reaching record levels. This news increases the confidence that the Boteti River will flow past Leroo La Tau later this year which will cause another remarkable transformation to the area.
Till next time.