One day last week, at about 9am, we had a ton of vultures circling over the house. Then they landed in a tree behind the waterhole and waited and waited and waited. The vultures sat in the tree and did not drop to the ground or fly off in search of a thermal which suggested to us that something had made a kill close by and the vultures were waiting for their turn to feed. We were pretty sure there was a predator still on the kill and we wanted to know what it was. We checked the location of the leopards and lions online because they all have GPS tracking collars and none of them were very close to the house so we suspected it was hyena, but we hadn’t heard any of their typical cackling feeding sounds.
The project recently received some camera traps that work via a motion detector so that you can find out exactly what animals have visited a specific location without having to sit there for hours on end recording what you see. We decided to set one up at our little waterhole temporarily in hopes that the predator would come for a drink sometime in the night. The following photos were all taken with a camera trap. They are not great quality because the camera uses infrared instead of a flash so as not to disturb the animals. The idea is to have a photo that allows you to identify an animal and get a good idea of its condition but these are certainly not photos that you can send to National Geographic.
The next morning we found that we had been visited by a large bull elephant.
A couple of civets.
And this is the hyena that we think is responsible for the kill – look at that full tummy!
The hyena found the camera trap, despite the fact that it was camouflaged and emitted no light, and was so intrigued by it that he dislodged it from the tree (since we were only using it in that location for one night we didn’t secure it as well as we normally would). It was so interesting for us to wake up and look over the photos of our nocturnal visitors. The camera even got a shot of our highly trained technicians who filled the waterhole after installing the camera.
The following day the hyena moved on, the vultures tucked in and the carcass began to smell – badly. We could see exactly where it was because of the vulture activity. Every time the girls and I went out on the deck the vultures were disturbed and flew back to the tree. We ended up staying inside so that they could feed in peace because we really wanted them to clean up the remains and get rid of the stench that was starting to permeate the house. Once we were able to investigate, we found that the hyena had killed an adult female nyala.
Where would you like to place a camera trap?