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Tracking snakes at Tswalu, by researcher Thilo Beck

by Tswalu Kalahari on Sun, November 11, 2018 in Conservation, News, Wildlife, 

We’ve been at Tswalu now for four weeks. We are doing a job that we couldn’t have imagined doing five years ago in a place we would not have believe existed. Living next door to every imaginable kind of wildlife in the Kalahari would be special enough, but we get to combine that with regular interactions with some of the most interesting snakes southern Africa has to offer.

Our daily routine includes catching snakes, investigating around sociable weaver colonies and tracking Cape cobras and boomslang. We usually go out in the mornings to catch the snakes on the move while tracking them, so we can learn as much as we can about their habits, behaviours and priorities. Walking around the bush, antenna in hand, listening to the beep of the transmitter, is just magical.

While tracking snakes one comes across a huge variety of wildlife. We’ve stumbled onto everything from buffalos to giraffes and ostriches with chicks.

One encounter will definitely stand out against all the others,however. On this particular day we were on our way to the sociable weaver colonies to check their current breeding status. To do so we have to stand beneath the big colony nests and check the different chambers for eggs or chicks.

It was late in the afternoon after a long work session and all three of us were tired. In the aftermath it seems like nobody really paid attention to the surroundings. We were 10 metres from our target colony when we suddenly heard a muffled grunt. We froze in our tracks and looked up, right into the face of a leopard which was standing on top of the weaver colony nest. The leopard jumped down on the far side of the tree and ran away immediately, leaving us speechless.