It has been a relatively quiet month in the Makgadikgadi. Very little rain fell and so the ground has hardened up considerably making it easier to travel around as the zebra move off the pans and into the woodland areas and the grasslands closer to large waterholes. Rains in late February have encouraged zebra to move back down onto the pans while the water remains fresh. It will be interesting to see whether we continue to get late rains this year like we have for the past few years.
Fieldwork has continued throughout the month taking its toll on the research vehicle which is now visiting the car doctor for some expert love and attention. The research vehicle will be back with me soon as I conduct the last month of field data collection for this phase of the project. Then, at the end of March and into early April, all remaining collars will be removed from zebra with the assistance of a qualified veterinarian.
There have been no unexpected sightings to report this month, I keep hearing Lions calling through the night but they remain elusive when day breaks. I have been conducting observations this month and it is fascinating to watch the dynamics within the zebra herds as bachelors look to start a harem while harem stallions fend off the attention of other males.
I am continuing to plan the aerial survey which I hope to undertake either later this month or in early April. I would like to thank SAVE Foundation and Kalahari Kavango for their pledged support for this survey in offering to meet some of the costs. Additional funding is still required and if anyone feels that they might be able to support the project and help to meet the costs of this survey then please let me know. I am also still looking to secure funding for the chemical analysis of grass and faeces samples collected during fieldwork. Any support for either of these targets would be greatly appreciated.
The Makgadikgadi Zebra Research project is featured in the latest issue of The Smithsonian Magazine which chose to make it the cover story. The story was written by Robyn Keene-Young who visited the project in November 2010 in order to learn more about the research, its aims and the challenges faced while working in the Makgadikgadi. Robyn provides a very good view of the research and the feedback that I have had so far has been very promising and I am glad that so many people are interested in the research. You can read the story at the following link: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/issue/March_2011.html. There is also a video of zebras and the research on the website which you might be interested in watching.
I hope that this finds you all well and if you have anything which you would like to comment on then please feel free to get in touch.