Thursday, June 23, 2011

Glorious field work

It has been quite a while since I have been able to post. After visiting Pilanesburg we left the busy city of Pretoria and I felt a weight being lifted. We finally made it out to our field site at SA Lombard. The reserve is small- 3500 ha. It does not have any of the big five and I prefer it that way. Elephants and lions are fun to visit but when it comes to logistics it is so much easier to not have them to worry about. The park is not open to the public and is used as an ungulate breeding ground. There are Black Wildebeest, impala, Springbok, Orynx, Zebra, Blesbok, warthog, and Black-backed jackal to name some of the common sights on the park. It is more beautiful here than I expected and the field house is more comfortable than I could have imagined.

We set the field house up and then took off to Namibia. My supervisor previously worked in a park in Namibia and she had stored a majority of the field gear there. So we took a road trip up through Namibia to a tiny town called Maltahoe. Every town in Namibia is a tiny town (except the capital city). Namibia feels very empty with enormous skies and dramatic landscapes. It is a very beautiful country. I was sad to cross back into South Africa again but relieved to get back to the field house that already feels like home.

Since returning we have fallen into a nice routine. We wake up at sunrise to set traps our boots crunching on frost covered grass. As we walk across the plain we are greeted with amazing sunrises and the grunts of wildebeest giving us the hairy eye. We work our squirrels and release them back to the feld with PIT tags and dye marks so we can follow their movements from far away. So far we have captured and released around 50 individuals. Starting in July we hope to start our experiments. The background data we are capturing from each individual is essential before we do so. It feels so nice to finally be doing what I have set out to do.

In the evening we go down to the pan which is filled with water and watch the sunset and look at the water birds that roost around the temporary lake. Or we go for a run down the roads listening to the jackals calling and watching the springboks bound across the road ahead of us.


  1. I am so happy that your field work is going so well. If I'm not mistaken, somebody...though I can't remember who...said everything would be so much better for you once you got to the field site and started your research. ;) Did you take that background picture with the bus? Which country is that? It is incredible!

  2. Sounds beautiful..... What an incredible opportunity. Glad to hear that you are settling into a routine and have started your field work. Are you able to share what your experiments will be with the squirrels??

  3. So cool. Hope you're taking oodles of pictures.