CCF scat detection team, consisting of scat dog Enyakwa and scat dog researcher Tim Hofmann, did their second trip to Angola for this years’ dry season. In this collaboration with CIBIO (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos) from the University of Porto in Portugal, the team works together with researchers from Angola and Portugal. The scat samples detected by Enya help to determine predators’ presence and their diet.
Now towards the end of the dry season the first small rains bring some refreshment from the very high temperatures. But they also bring lightning that sparks fires in the dry bushveld; additionally to the fires light by farmers to regenerate their grazing lands. I am often wondering if the strong smell of smoke affects Enya’s work but she seems fine and still manages to find a lot of samples. However, she is not a big fan of investigating the still burning fires any closer and is happy when we find a way around them. Back at camp, we usually spend our times hiding away from the sun wherever we can, waiting for the few cooler minutes in the late afternoon where we can work again. After a few days in the bush we are always looking forward to the travel days as a good shower in a hotel brings the energy back.
This time, when we travelled from Cuatir Private Game Reserve to Bicuar National Park, Enya suffered one of very few injuries we ever had on our trips. A wooden frame holding a mosquito net fell on her foot. It is quite an irony that we spend several months every year in areas with snakes, elephants, crocodiles and many different predators and we have an accident the one night we sleep in a hotel. Luckily it only took some extra meds and a few resting days and Enya was free of pain and we were ready to sample in Bicuar.
It is absolutely incredible to see more and more animals in the park that are getting used to the presence of people again, after years of poaching and bush meat hunting. Enya and I were very lucky to meet a lot of wildlife on our walks that often lead us to waterholes. At the end of the dry season these are the last remaining water sources and therefore very busy. At night the elephants will make it difficult to go for a swim but during the day Enya gets to enjoy the last few puddles. It is incredible to see how little water is left compared to when we have been here 3 months ago.
Enya once again managed to beat her own record and we brought hundreds of scat samples back to the lab in Portugal. Throughout the dry season the samples will remain in the field as there are no dung beetles eating them or rain washing them away. Still, I was surprised by how many scats we found. Besides this big win, we were happy to return to CCF and end the field season on a very high note.