By: CARA BRAUND- Conservation Intern- 17th October 2011
As part of their efforts to track biodiversity levels on Rukinga and the rest of the project area, the Biodiversity Division have been testing out camera traps to photograph unsuspecting wildlife in their natural habitat.
The first six test cameras are on day and night and the first trials have been going well, with elephants, lesser kudu, giraffe, kongoni civets and even aardwolf being captured.
The team got a bit of a surprise, however, when checking the recent results of their work. Mixed among the shots of buffalo and kudu was the image of several men walking through the bush several hours after dark, as well as a clear image of one man with a torch and a machete.
Whilst illegally travelling by foot on Rukinga, the group had inadvertently stepped past one of the traps, providing the Wildlife Works team with evidence of their likely attempts to poach wildlife on the sanctuary.
The photographs will now be used to identify the man in one of the photographs, at which point he will receive a fine for trespassing. Due to the fact that poaching wildlife is only indicated, not proven in the picture, it’s likely he will only receive a stern warning about his activities rather than be arrested.
The hope is that due to his photographic capture and subsequent warning, the man in the photograph will make a bid to change his ways, especially when combined with ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life in the community.
As a twist on similar situations, Wildlife Works has made the not-uncommon decision to hire poachers in the past as a way of combating the problem. As long as the person passes the test in terms of fitness and dedication, they can be excellent additions to the anti-poaching team by way of their skill-set in tracking and knowledge of the trade!
Needless to say the Biodiversity Division is fairly happy that their monitoring of wildlife in the area has lead to the tracking of poachers. At Wildlife Works we are particularly pleased to know that the use of technology in addition to rangers can be effective in reducing poaching. As well as producing hard evidence of the illegal activity for the authorities, it means that the rangers themselves will be in less physical danger in relation to fighting illegal activity in the area.
I wonder what we’ll see next time?