Shamwari Conservation Experience

Brown hyena research project update August 2015

It was with a combination of great anticipation and a bit of sadness that I took the last collar from our office. 15 months, 8 brown hyena and 9 collars later we successfully collared the last brown hyena for this project.

The call came from our reserve manager Bruce, that a neighbouring farmer caught a brown hyena on his farm and that he was keen to collar it. It was decided to collar her and then to release her on Shamwari. This is always a risky situation because in most cases, once the hyena is released it will move back to its original territory. The farmer was happy if this was to happen, so we went ahead with the plan.

It took only two days for her to break out of the reserve and she moved back to the farming area! This however will afford us an opportunity to study the movements of brown hyena outside protected reserves and give us some valuable information on brown hyena living in these fragmented landscapes. So what is next for this research project?

I will start taking the collars off the hyenas once the batteries run out and am in the first phase of the population density survey. This is a camera trap survey that will run for a maximum of a year with each survey approximately 3-4 months long. These photos will enable us to compile an identikit of the hyenas on the reserve and help us to determine the population size.

I can only thank literally hundreds of volunteers that have helped me from the planning phase of this project to its halfway mark. Without your help this project would not have been possible. A special thanks to Angie Goody and Amanda Graver for sponsoring some of the equipment (Hlekabafazi's!!!) Also, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Shamwari Game Reserve and all the conservation staff involved with this project. Without your assistance this project would not have been possible.

Cameras are sponsored by Unisa and rechargeable batteries were kindly donated by the SUSCON Africa Foundation. A HUGE THANK YOU for this!

Until next time!