carnivores ecology camera traps field work

More Tales from Trails

A tale of carnivores, camera traps, and camaraderie straight from the grasslands and woodlands of Africa.

It has been a surreal summer. By some stroke of magic, I was able to do a pilot study in Zambia for my dissertation research on carnivore communities. This involved lugging a ton of equipment halfway across the world and back. In the end it was well worth it, as you’ll get to see.


Fig 1 I would be lying if said packing for the field is fun. The prospect of actually being in the field makes the process bearable for me!

Making sure that all the equipment safely reached my final destination, the remote Kasanka National Park in Zambia, after multiple transits and modes of transport, was my biggest concern. Once everything made it there in reasonably good condition, I felt unstoppable. There were niggling worries like poachers stealing camera traps and logistical difficulties in covering certain areas, but contingencies were put in place where possible and work progressed smoothly for the most part.


Fig 2 Indispensable equipment for my study – camera traps, SD cards, laptop, external hard disk, field guide, data sheets,… and plenty of coffee and rooibos!


Fig 3 Every field researcher would second me on this – field work cannot happen in isolation. For that matter, research cannot happen in isolation. Field crew can make or break any project – my study could not have happened without the support of the the Kasanka Trust management team and their incredible, passionate crew of rangers, scouts, and support staff. I’d forever be grateful for their enthusiastic support and friendship.


Figure 4 Setting up a camera trap in miombo woodland.

(Thanks to Gerry Taylor for this photo.)

My postcard from Kasanka ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. But I was happy to discover a ton of carnivore videos (from mongooses and jackals to civets and genets) in the camera traps by the end of my pilot. I bid adieu to Kasanka with a heavy heart, but eagerly look forward to another opportunity to return. Hopefully there will be more stories from here next summer!

One of the camera traps recorded this side-striped jackal at night.

This majestic sable antelope was recorded in one of the cameras that was set in miombo woodland habitat.

Related Reading

Tales from Trails: Field Dispatches from Africa by Kadambari Devarajan

Critter Candid Cam by Kadambari Devarajan

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