The Cheetah Conservation Fund was asked by B2Gold Mine to undertake a biodiversity monitoring project utilisation remote camera traps in order to determine the species richness across the area. B2Gold purchased 24 SpyPoint Remote Camera Traps for the purpose of this study. The aim was to determine the number of key carnivores on the game reserve including cheetah, leopard and brown hyaena.
On the 28th of March 2015 Dr. Louisa Richmond-Coggan, ecology manager and Trycolyn Pikirayi ecology intern went to the B2Gold game reserve to work with Duane Rudman reserve manager, Andre Rousseau ecology manager, Simeon Nampala assistant reserve manager and Ingrid B2Gold student placement.
The B2Gold mine reserve was divided into 22 grid cells each of 2.92 km2. Twenty-two cells was based on the total number of remote camera traps available, as there was no need to place two cameras per stations when the focus is on collecting data on the presence-absence of species. Remote camera traps will then be placed randomly at least within 300 meters from the centre of a grid and left mounted at ca. 50 cm above the ground and left for 3 months. All the cameras were check, charged batteries and empty SDs were put into all the cameras, and a short tutorial was conducted on how the camera works.
The project has been running now for just over two months. The cameras have been out for a total of 622 nights and taken 22,361 photographs. Overall 10 carnivore species, 13 herbivore species and 7 bird species have been captured. Amongst the carnivore species the project has achieved its goal of capturing all three target species (leopard, cheetah, brown hyaena) as well as a few surprises such as serval, honey badger, caracal, porcupine, black-backed jackal and pangolin. The survey will continue for another month and then the data will be analysed all together to determine the overall species richness of the reserve. The B2Gold mine team have worked very hard checking the cameras every week, downloading the photographs and sending them over to the Cheetah Conservation Fund for analysis it is a positive collaboration that we hope will continue into the future.