Waterhole Wednesday: Camera Trap Photos

Waterhole Wednesday - Camera Traps - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Vultures waiting to feed - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Elephant on camera trap - Mud Hut Mama

The next morning we found that we had been visited by a large bull elephant.

Civet on a Camera Trap - Mud Hut Mama

A couple of civets.

Hyena on a Camera Trap - Mud Hut Mama

And this is the hyena that we think is responsible for the kill – look at that full tummy!

Hyena investigating camera trap - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Girls on a Camera Trap - Mud Hut Mama

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?

About Jody Tilbury

31 Responses to “Waterhole Wednesday: Camera Trap Photos”

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  1. Jo says:

    There was a duck standing in the middle of the road in front of our house yesterday. Just hanging out. And it’s a fairly busy road leading to a parking lot and a fire station. We were thrilled and stood looking at the window, yelling, “Duck! Hey Duck! Get out of the road!” and giggling for half an hour.

    Suddenly that seems very, very uninteresting 😉

    • haha! that made me chuckle : ) I feel the same about having a spider in my room yesteray and having to fight it off with a piece of tissue paper…

      • Jody Tilbury says:

        It’s all relative – my girls adore dogs and cats because they don’t see them very often and they are amazed that they stay still for them to touch.

  2. Your girls are going to have so many amazing stories to share! I would love to place a camera trap in my living room….lol….the animals we have inside keep rearranging all the baby toys and I would love to know which gremlin is responsible….. 😉 Thank you for sharing this story – kids all around the world can benefit from learning about animals and conservation – I enjoy the posts too 🙂

  3. Frances says:

    Oh my goodness! How exciting, and I’m so glad you have the highly trained technicians helping you out! Love, love this post… I’m sharing it with my little one.

  4. So cool Jody! The life you live 🙂

  5. Katja says:

    What an amazing experience! Your technicians look very professional.

  6. That infrared camera is so cool! I would love to set one of these up in my yard for a night – we get a lot of animals since we are next to a wooded area, and the most interesting ones only come out at night. Nothing as cool as what you get, though – thanks for sharing these pictures!

  7. Heather says:

    Interesting pictures. Biology in action! Food chain! (Vultures always seem to come at the end of the food chain)

  8. I love it! That is so cool you can set up the camera to get these pictures! And I love your technicians 😉

    Hmm, we don’t have hyenas or elephants, but I do have two little monkeys I wouldn’t mind getting more pictures of. I think there is a lot that happens when my back is turned, especially when Daddy Monkey is home!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      I know – I love eavesdropping on my two when they are playing in another room. A photo to go with it would be awesome – when I’m there the dynamic changes.

  9. You could totally be on Nat’l Geo or the Nature shows – this is amazing and what a great thing to be able to see wildlife at night! Excellent – so glad you shared!

  10. Juanita says:

    That is awesome, having a chance to see what animals are visiting while you would otherwise be unaware. Love that the hyena came for a close-up!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      I also loved the shots we got of the hyena – we’ve enjoyed learning more about them since we’ve been here.

  11. Addison says:

    A Bull Elephant! That’s so amazing!!

  12. Lisa Nelson says:

    Wow Mama, this is so far out of my realm of anything that’s possible. Haha!

    What a cool life (and a bit scary) you have.

    Where would I put a camera trap? Not sure, cause it took me half the post to figure out what a camera trap was! Ha! We have some cute little bunnies hopping around are yard, but are they killing my flowers? Camera trap! Little boogers. Slimy ones they are.

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you for your comment Lisa. Yes they would be a fun way to figure out what is killing your flowers!

  13. Tulip says:

    That is amazing! Very exciting. I would like to put a camera trap in my Chicken yard. I’d call it, “the coop” LOL! Sounds like a reality TV show. You are a brave mama! Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thanks so much for reading – I love “the coop” – it makes me think of the movie “Chicken Run.”

  14. Lucinda says:

    What an amazing education your girls are having. I agree with the comments about our local wildlife seeming uninteresting in comparison!

    But actually your post also makes me appreciate the wildlife we do have on our doorstep. Maybe even our little English pond study seems exotic to someone! 😀

    Your photos really are interesting though – thanks for sharing.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thanks Lucinda – your English pond would be very exotic to me & my girls – it is all relative!