Barclay is starting out work with Wendy Collinson from The Endangered Wildlife Trust who is studying the effects of roadkill on the wildlife in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area. While wildlife killed directly on the roads is easy to spot from a vehicle on the transects that Wendy drives, wildlife hit and thrown into the verges, or that crawls a small distance before dying will not be easy to spot. By teaching Barclay to scour the verges for roadkill or remains of it, Wendy will be able to work out how much of what is killed she is actually seeing and how much is missed. So simple but so effective!
Barclay is currently on secondment to Wendy Collinson from the Endangered Wildlife Trust who is working on a project on Roadkill and the effects of this danger on the wildlife in this area. You can read more about Wendys project at http://endangeredwildlifetrust.wordpress.com/author/wendycollinson/ . It is so dry here at the moment after a very poor rainy season that there is a large amount of wildlife feeding alongside the roads at the moment, and so in danger of being hit by cars and trucks. We saw the damage done to a car that hit a kudu one evening last week. There is serious danger posed to people and the wildlife when they come so close together on the roads. We also came across a Steenbok that had been hit and injured and someone has cut its throat, presumably to end its suffering. While it was dragged off the road, it was still so close to the tarmac that a Tawny Eagle feeding on the carcass was in danger of becoming even more roadkill. If we are not on one of the roads Wendy is studying, we try to drag roadkill well off the road to avoid this problem.
In a normal year this would be a dam full of water.
As well as affecting the roadkill, the drought is causing problems for everyone. At this time of year we should be at the end of our rainy season, but it seems our rain just didnt come this year. Instead of 350mm that is our average annual rainfall, we had less than 100mm. This leaves us with very little feed for the livestock and game going into Winter. The livestock auctions in the area are very bleak, with thins cows filling the pens as people try to reduce their stock. Drought means that the herbivores, wild and domestic, come under a lot of pressure and stress. A bad year for them is usually a good year for the carnivores, and the jackals on the farm are having a field day. They are fat and shiny, with glossy coats and we hear them calling vibrantly into the cold night sky every night. We have camera traps out and we are getting plenty of pictures of Leopards as well at the moment, and even had Lions strolling our fenceline last week. Despite this pressure, we still have not lost a goat or a cow in several years. Touch wood!