Every team gets rostered for two capture nights. This means an overnight camp out in the bush with snares set up for the predator and a vigil every 3 hours to check the snares. On the night of our capture the community visit team comes back with the information that a calf has been taken by a lion that morning in the village. Our plan is to try and capture and collar that lion when it comes back to finish off its feed which it was disturbed from doing.
We go to the village and negotiate to get some calf remains to set as bait in the snare hoping that the lioness will come back. We eventually get the head , a few ribs and the lungs. Enough to set in the snare. I get to carry the head end of the carcass, it’s an experience. Building the snare is fascinating, we use thorny acacia around the snare to lead the animal in so that they will have tostep on the snare and set it off.
We camp not far from the kill site and have a camp fire dinner. The vigil begins. We go out 3 times checking the snare and then coming back to catch a bit of sleep stoking up the fire. Unfortunately no luck. When we get back to camp we hear that the foot transect team has come across a lot of hyena activity further up the road so this time the capture team and us go out for a chance at snaring a hyena.
Despite three separate snares we do not catch the culprit. Two of the snares have been set off by ardwolf two small a creature to snare and the third the hyena has outsmarted the snare and taken the bait from above!
This proves the case to the great frustration of Francois for the rest of our slot. It seems the hyena may need another approach to get captured.
On one of our capture nights as we were setting up the snare we got a visit from one of the young men in the local village, he watched us for quite a while and wished us luck on the capture. The people here see the value of what Francois and Julia are trying to achieve. He had one question of us, did we have any animal books for him to read as he wants to become a guide. Well here it is my project for when we get home. I get his name, check that Francois knows the village he comes from and I commit to raise funds to purchase 100 guide books for distribution amongst the interested young people in the villages. I feel that this is a really worthy project that has more future than a money donation.
NOTE: the snare that are referred to are foot snares. They are a specific design that does not hurt the animal. The way they are designed, they can be set for certain tensions and paw sizes so Francois ends up capturing the predators he wants. The snares have also been approved by the Namibian department responsible for the National Parks and environment.