17 Apr 2014
Wildlife tracking and Monitoring
What is wildlife tracking and monitoring?
Africa has over 400 known species of endangered animals and monitoring endangered species is an essential and critical step in their conservation.
Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT and our conservation volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of Africa’s wildlife.
Wildlife ACT’s monitoring service
Many African game reserves do not have the funds or capacity to run effective wildlife conservation projects despite monitoring being an essential part of conservation. Wildlife ACT assists these game reserves by providing tracking and monitoring services free of charge.
Wildlife ACT is unique in that we actively advance conservation by initiating, implementing and managing monitoring projects on reserves which do not have existing monitoring programmes in place; or by taking over existing monitoring projects on reserves that can no longer fund or manage them.
Why are volunteers are needed for tracking and monitoring?
As a conservation volunteer, you play a vital role by assisting Wildlife ACT’s research monitors. You will be the monitor’s direct assistant and aid them with their daily activities. You will experience what it’s like to be one of Africa’s wildlife researchers.
This will give you the opportunity to learn not only about these focal endangered species but also about many other aspects of the African Bushveld; and gain exclusive hands-on experience.
Daily activities as a conservation volunteer
Daily activities will include tracking and monitoring of endangered wildlife, which include the African wild dog, cheetah, black rhino and vulture. Monitoring of elephant, buffalo, lion, hyena, leopard and White Rhino will also take place on a more ad hoc basis.
To effectively conserve endangered species, we also need to understand how they are impacted by priority species with high ecological impacts. These priority species include elephant, hyena, lion, leopard, white rhino and buffalo.
On some of the reserves we work on, these animals are actively monitored, meaning we track them on a regular basis via our telemetry equipment, or by traditional tracking technique. We also use camera traps on some reserves. Those not tracked on a daily bases are monitored incidentally, meaning we record them only if we chance upon them.
- Using a radio telemetry or identifying tracks, you’ll begin locating an animal. Once you’ve found the animal, various important data is recorded, such as the GPS location, group composition, associations and behaviour.
- The next step is to photograph the animal as these photographic recordings are used in the development of an accurate identikit for identifying specific individuals. These activities are most often conducted from a 4×4 vehicle, driven by the Wildlife ACT monitor and take place during early mornings and late evenings, with a midday break taken in between monitoring sessions.
- Your ‘break’ is usually filled-up carrying out your camp maintenance, cleaning and cooking responsibilities.
- As a conservation volunteer, it is part of your responsibilities to help run our camps in order to keep them well-maintained and clean. As such, you will be assigned certain responsibilities that will assist the monitor to run each camp.
Depending on how long you stay with us and what time of the year it is, you might also get the opportunity to experience:
- Trapping and radio collaring of animals;
- Relocation and re-introduction of game;
- Identity tagging of animals;
- Night excursions to monitor nocturnal animals such as the hyena;
- Vulture counts and nest surveys;
- Bird ringing; or
- Alien plant control
We work in a very dynamic environment, meaning our movements and activities are regulated by the animals we work with, reserve management activities and weather conditions, which we do not have control over!
Anyone can join!
If you’d like to join Wildlife ACT as a conservation volunteer you don’t need any special skills or qualifications as all the training will be conducted by our qualified wildlife monitors. All you need is the right attitude and a willingness to help and learn.
We’re looking for conservation volunteers who want to experience what’s it’s like to be an true conservationist in Africa and contribute to the exciting and important wildlife conservation work we do.
The African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus, is a carnivorous mammal of the Canidae family. They are the size of medium domestic dogs and weigh between 16-36 kg and measure 61-76cm high. The dogs differ from wolves and other dogs in that they have 4 toes instead of 5.
African Wild Dogs are one of Africa's most endangered carnivores, Red Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN) as “Endangered”.
The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal in the world. The cheetah is smaller and leaner than other big cats, and unlike other big cats, the cheetah cannot roar. It can however, purr on inhale and exhale, much like domestic cats. Cheetahs are typically solitary animals. While males sometimes live with a small group of brothers from the same litter, females generally raise cubs by themselves for about a year.
The Cheetah is listed as “Vulnerable” on the CITES Endangered Species List.
The Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) is distinguished from the White Rhino by a prehensile upper lip (hence the alternative name of hook-lipped rhino), which it uses to feed on twigs of woody plants and a variety of herbaceous plants. As solitary creatures, both male and female Rhinos establish home ranges, and can often be found wallowing in mud pools during the midday heat.
Black Rhinos are listed as “Critically Endangered” on the CITES Endangered Species List. Valued for their horns, they face a serious threat from poaching.