When the Great Brak River Conservancy started its Camera Trap Project in late 2017 the objective was in hindsight naively simple. At the time there had been blue duiker sighted in the area and we wanted to know more. Our curiosity was not limited to this small elusive creature – its very existence posed the question as to what else might be out there.
Over the course of the project the Conservancy has been able to photograph and record the following species in and around the Great Brak River area.
• Large grey mongoose • Small grey mongoose • Large spotted genet • Cape grysbok
• Blue duiker • Common duiker • Bushbuck • Bushpig • Cape porcupine • Caracal
•Cape clawless otter • Vervet monkey • Honey badger • Scrub hare
It must be noted that the frequency and regularity of observations fluctuate drastically between species as well as area. Certain animals that have been recorded on the list are sighted a lot more regularly than others. There are areas within Great Brak River that we, unfortunately, have not been able to monitor, simply because we cannot guarantee the safety of our cameras. Who knows what still remains residing in these areas? There are also animals known to inhabit our area that aren’t on our project list simply because we have not captured an image on one of four cameras. Recently roadkill, found just outside of Great Brak River, was brought to the Conservancy’s attention and it turned out to be a bat-eared fox. This only proves the point that we don’t have all the answers yet and there’s more out there waiting to be discovered.
These animals are not confined to reserves and have no concept of land ownership or fences. Their freedom within a disappearing habitat is somewhat unclear. As the islands of undisturbed environment get smaller and further apart in the ocean of development populations of fauna will become isolated. The unconnected pockets of ever-shrinking sustainability won’t be able to hold these somewhat forgotten riches. With no land being designated for conservation on a local level and environmental impact assessment studies for development often not even considering these animals, it seems the long-term future of our local fauna falls more and more on the shoulders of the private individual and landowner. Being protected by laws is no longer enough.
Now that we know that these animals are among us, perhaps we can all look for ways to ensure their future. We need to view ourselves as part of the ecosystem as opposed to the archaic view of being above it all. Conservation of the environment is everyone’s responsibility and we have to find ways to be proactive rather than be so reactive. To ensure the long-term protection of the environment we need to explore ways where we can establish an environment that no longer needs protection.
If you have any observations, photos or video footage of our local fauna please don’t hesitate to share this information with the Great Brak River Conservancy. Sharing such information is the first step and it allows for potential conservation measures to be put in place.
While we as South Africans fight among ourselves about who is entitled to what land, let us not forget our four-legged friends who walked these lands long before us.