August has been another busy month in the Makgadikgadi as the temperatures have steadily increased and I have recorded a high of 35oC while observing a collared zebra. There has also been a steady increase of Elephants in the eastern Makgadikgadi and while out one day I came across 14 male elephants feeding near to the research camp and merrily pushing down any tree they felt like.
With the increase in temperature the waterholes in the Jacks Camp area are rapidly drying up with only 2 major waterholes remaining. It won’t be long before these too are dry and the zebra are forced to migrate to find suitable water resources. There is currently only one collared zebra remaining in the east as every other collared zebra has migrated to the Boteti region.
It so far seems that the collars which were deployed at the end of July to replace broken GPS collars are working well and providing some interesting data. The zebra in the Boteti region have divided themselves into two distinct groups with those which migrated earlier in the year drinking from and grazing in the area surrounding Meno A Kwena while those which migrated later currently drinking from the river around Khumaga and Leroo La Tau. Despite being in different areas they are following similar drinking patterns as they come into drink every 2-3 days.
Unfortunately one GPS collar is no longer sending through GPS data after the zebra had an extremely close encounter with some Lions and came off second best. This was one of the few zebra which had retained her original collar from March. It’s a shame that the Lions chose the collared zebra but it goes to show that predation is a serious risk for zebra in the Makgadikgadi.
I would like to thank those of you who have generously provided additional funding to the project in the last couple of months. Fundraising is an ongoing process as I look to meet the running costs of the project as well as significant one-off costs. These include darting zebra to replace and remove collars, the chemical analysis of grass and faecal samples and an aerial population count of the zebra herd which I hope to conduct in early 2011. All donations can be tax-deductible and if you would like to support the project in anyway then please contact me.