It's a Trap!
UMP, UWC, and UniVen students working together to install reptile traps in the KNP. The whole process was incredibly efficient and we managed to install six arrays in just a few hours.
Study sites have been selected, traps have been made, and now five of the six trapping arrays that we will be using to capture reptiles for the next ten days have been installed. Accompanied by our game guard, Thomas, we trekked into the bush with our materials and tools in hand. When we arrived to each site we selected a location best-suited for the Y-shaped trapping array and began digging a
hole for the center bucket. There were many tasks to do including digging holes, hammering in stakes, stapling the drift fences, etc. Everyone put in a great effort and installation took less than a hour per site.
Trapping arrays are essential for surveying reptile communities. Detecting animals during active searches can be immensely challenging. Even with a team of 14 people, we would not easily and accurately assess the reptile community at a given site. Camouflaged animals easily evade detection as do the smaller animals that can quickly dart out of sight.
The trapping arrays will allow us to capture enough animals to test whether lowland and highland savannas differ in their reptile communities. Although we have detailed information about many of the animals and plants in the area, we know relatively little about reptiles and the factors that contribute to their presence in a habitat. The trapping arrays also give students the opportunity to practice field methods and to gain exposure to several different reptile species.
Our traps proved to be quite successful. The first check of the traps included several Trachylepis varia, Panaspis wahlbergii, and a Nucras holubi. It's humid tonight; fingers crossed that a snake slithers into one of the traps tonight.
New additions to our trip list include: Psammophis subtaeniatus, Psammophylax tritaeniatus, Panaspis wahlbergii, and Kinixys spekii.