‘Project Impisi’ update – Possible den found

For those of you who have been following progress, you will know that we are now well into the habitat analysis stage of Project Impisi (to read the background on this research being carried out at Askari…click this link http://www.askariwcp.com/impisi)

We randomly go to sites that were visited by our translocated brown hyaenas and assess the habitat and vegetation cover there. So little is known about these secretive predators, particularly in this area of their geographical range so everything we find is new information. Nobody for example has any idea what kind of habitats and areas the brown hyaenas might use for denning here. The hyaenas take us to some amazing spots…but also to some rubbish ones; through thick bush, thorns and nettles! Just today we were trudging through some tick infested, spider web covered bush and i said “What are you doing ‘Jaggedy’, why on earth would you come to somewhere like this?” As the arrow on the GPS led us in to the point, we approached an old termite mound covered in long, long grass. A few moments later, the answer to my question was suddenly apparent when we saw a freshly dug and recently used hole looking suspiciously like a DEN!

After a little inspection we found some fresh hyaena tracks at the entrance and also on a sandy patch a few metres away. It was in a block where Jaggedy has been hanging out a lot recently and she has also been experiencing many ‘Time outs’ on her collar. Her collar is programmed to take a GPS position every hour throughout the night; obviously to do this it needs a clear view of the sky, not possible if she is underground in a den!

Although brown hyaenas commonly use dens, our immagination started to run away with us when we saw the localisation and time outs in her data; perhaps she had some babies needing a home! Strangely enough as we peeped in the entrance of the hole, we could hear some squeaking inside…could it be the sound of cubs…or maybe us just really wanting to hear something?!

Now, i don’t neccessarily mean for everyone to get quite as excited as me about this as to be honest…we’ve had a few false alarms already! So far however, the signs for this look promising and we are very hopeful to have found our first ever brown hyaena den on Pidwa, maybe even housing cubs.

For now we have set up a camera trap. We will leave it for atleast a week as we really want to minimise disturbance to the area. For this reason, the camera is not pointing at the den entrance itself but on the sandy patch nearby. This therefore may not prove to us whether there are cubs or not as if very young, they will not yet leave the den yet anyway. We may however be able to see from Jaggedy’s behaviour whether she is returning to the den on out of the ordinary regular occassions to feed the cubs.

Watch this space and we will keep you posted with the outcome after collecting the results of our camera trapping.

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