Monday, 27 January 2014

Lightning: A Continuing Success Story

In 2009 a female Leopard (N027) nick-named "Lightning" was relocated from a high conflict area in Northern Namibia to  Kulala Wilderness Reserve in Southern Namibia. She was released after being fitted with a GPS radio collar that enabled intensive monitoring of her movements and behaviour over the subsequent years; making her one of the longest running leopard case studies in Africa. 

The monitoring of this leopard has produced extremely valuable research information. Lightning has already raised one litter of cubs successfully and investigations of her kill sites confirmed a strict wildlife diet including warthog, kudu and springbok with no predation on local livestock.  This information has been regularly shared with the landowners where Lightning has established her 220km home range.

In early 2012, after developing a home range overlapping the Neuras property and that of our neighbour, Tsauchab River Camp;  her collar's lifespan was up and her signal went dead. Her movements could only then be determined by occasional sightings, spoor and camera trap images; one of which showed she was supporting another young cub.
In mid-December 2013, Lightning and her cub were successfully trapped at Neuras. Lightning was darted by a veterinarian and re-collared with a new GPS satellite unit. This would allow the continuation of intensive monitoring, adding important data to this unique case study.
Since being fitted with her new collar the Neuras team have already discovered two kill sites (both Warthog) and a leopard marking tree where a camera trap has now been placed. We now have the unique opportunity to chart not only Lightnings behaviour but also the progress of her cub.

To stay informed of Lightning's progress this blog will continue to feature weekly blog updates by our volunteers in which their experiences of tracking Lightning will no doubt be heavily featured.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Volunteer Update - Week One 2014

Happy New Year! Here is the first of what will now be a weekly update from our volunteers so you can learn what its like to volunteer here at Neuras.
"We had an amazing time at Neuras! During our stay we tracked a GPS collared female leopard known as “Lightening”, hiked one of the tallest sand dunes “ Big Daddy” at Sossusvlei, hiked the Naukluft Mountain and enjoyed the weather and pool! We also loved our day trip to the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre where we visited and fed the ambassador cheetahs in the 500ha soft-release camp.
"It was great to work with the coordinators Matt and Kate; learning important conservation techniques like placing camera traps, setting up trap cages (to capture the resident carnivores for GPS collaring) and how to track animals by identifying their spoor. Whilst tracking Lightening the leopard we  found one of her recent kills, a Warthog. It was great discovering this kind of information as it is really important when analyising a research animal's behaviour  and success.

In the evenings we enjoyed sundowners, home made pizzas, delicious wine and wonderful food. If you love to hike, see wildlife and help with important conservation and research then Neuras is the right place to be!
By Kim & Steph Scoltock, Lauren Jonaitis, Rene Ryholl, Rosie Ayton, Neisha Graham, David Bowen and Birgit Bugner.

We  also need to say a huge thank you to several of our former volunteers who have donated money and research items. Firstly the Kossman family donated a camera trap complete with protective metal case:
The camera has already been put to good use and captured these great images of a young leopard cub outside a small cave entrance:

We received significant financial donations from Rupert Labrum, Lauren Fenimore and Jenny Veh which was put towards a new volunteer lap top, guide books and rechargeable batteries. Finally, Seb Saboune donated a star watching guide book for us to get the most from viewing the amazing night sky we enjoy here at Neuras. So from all of the Neuras team:


If you also wish to help then please check out our Wish List page for more information about what we need and how you can donate.