02 28/02/2012

Using GPS Collars in Namibia

  • Africa
  • Mammals

A Chester Zoo supported project achieved two great successes last month, collaring both a Leopard and a Brown Hyena.

Researchers at the N/a ‘an ku sé Carnivore Conflict Project in Namibia fitted the two animals with Chester Zoo GPS satellite collars - using two of our four collars in just one week!

GPS collaring of 'problem’'animals is widely recognised as a conflict management tool and we have supported this work now for three years.

The research team consisting of Dr Rudie van Vuuren, Marlice van Vuuren and Florian Weise were firstly called to help capture a young male Leopard thought to have killed a calf on a local farm. The Leopard had been living on the cattle ranch for the past year, but this was the first time the animal had targeted cattle.

In the past this Leopard may have been killed by the ranch owners. Due to the work of N/a ‘an ku sé, cattle farmers are becoming more tolerant to the relocation of predators.

The Leopard was immobilised by a vet and once a collar had been fitted, was given a full health check and relocated to Neuhof Nature Reserve.

All images © N/a ‘an ku sé

Leopard tracking - Chester Zoo

The Leopard has since been hunting natural prey, in this case a subadult Mountain Zebra the day after its release, and remains in the close vicinity of the release site.

Following this release another report came in from a farmer who had a problematic Brown Hyena on his land. His cattle had severe bite wounds on their legs, consistent with injuries caused by hyena attack.

The farmer involved agreed that the hyena could be released immediately once a GPS collar had been attached using the same techniques as with the Leopard. For the past two weeks since its release, the hyena has been roaming but has started to settle down now and is using an area of 65km2.

Both affected farmers also agreed to test the effectiveness of guard donkeys on their properties in an attempt to prevent further cattle predation by large carnivores. Read more about guard donkeys here.

These releases are a great success for the N/a ‘an ku sé Carnivore Conflict Project and both the Leopard and Brown Hyena will continue to be monitored closely over the next few months.