Conservation Field Diaries

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August 27, 2014
Northern Cheyenne Dogs Days of Summer

Back in December, we ventured to southeast Montana to get a better idea of the free-roaming dog population wandering the streets of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Lame Deer, Montana.

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July 23, 2009
Black Rhino Background

Because it’s raining today, we are forced to have an office day. We’re working on our Progress Report for SANparks and also meeting with SANparks Region Manager, Lucius Moolman, to discuss our project’s progress.

I thought I’d also take advantage of the delay to provide some background on the black rhino conservation project:

Black rhinos are elusive creatures that serve as a reminder of prehistoric times, and in recent years, an iconic species for conservation efforts. Habitat destruction and poaching nearly drove black rhinos toward extinction in the 1990s.

July 20, 2009
Camera Traps and an Elephant Pregnancy Test

We have set up three camera traps to noninvasively monitor black rhino movements throughout the park, using them to collect fecal samples from known individuals. The camera traps were erected in areas based on rhino sightings by Addo Elephant National Park staff and tourists. We placed them at active scrapings, areas where black rhinos defecate and then scrape the feces with their hind legs to spread odors advertising their presence.

July 16, 2009
A Trip to Knysa

Today we headed to Knysa, a town about four hours west of Addo Elephant National Park, to meet with Angela Gaylard, region ecologist for SANparks. The meeting went well. We discussed the black rhino project and the issues and the preliminary results that we have had so far. Jordana and Elizabeth also discussed the preliminary results of their elephant project, which is investigating the effect of dominance rank on reproductive cyclicity.

Angela offered for us to stay at her house for the weekend. As Knysa is having its Oyster festival, we gladly accept.

Rachel Santymire

July 15, 2009
Setting the Camera Traps

We got up early and went to check some of the “camera traps” that Jordana had set up. The camera traps are stationed at black rhino “latrines.” What is nice about black rhinos is that they defecate at certain locations, latrines, as a way to mark their territory. After they defecate, they scrape their hind legs, knocking around the feces and spreading the odor...making their presence known.

We are using camera traps to study the movements of the black rhinos and to collect feces from known individuals. So, we set up a camera trap on a rhino latrine and check it the following morning.

July 14, 2009
Arriving in Addo Elephant National Park

After 21 hours of flying, Dr. Elizabeth Freeman and I made it to Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape of South Africa. Because we were still one hour from Addo Elephant National Park (Addo) and it was 10 p.m., we decided to spend the night at the Lemon Tree Lane B&B. Even though we had little sleep on the plane, we still had difficulty falling asleep because it was only 3 p.m. Central Time.

The next morning, after breakfast, Field Technician Jordana Meyer picked us up from the B&B and we all met with Dr.

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