Summer Biodiversity Surveys Underway in KNP
by Michele Hofmeyr
Some welcome rain and the high temperatures mean that summer has arrived at full swing in the Lowveld. During this hot season, an intrepid group of volunteer researchers are busy every day monitoring what insects, snakes, frogs and rodents are moving about in the veld of the Kruger National Park.
As part of the SANParks Biodiversity monitoring programme, this summer biodiversity survey will be visiting all the places that were surveyed in winter during June and July earlier this year. The team of volunteers is out at 4am every morning to walk bird transects, looking for all the different bird species that wake up with the sunrise. The team also checks the pitfall traps to see what frogs and insects have wondered into the traps over night, not forgetting the rodent traps. They also very carefully check the snake traps and all the captured specimens are identified and released.
The team of volunteers is lead by Graeme Ellis from the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS). The first site they worked on this week was near Phabeni and according to Graeme Ellis, they have found a Puffadder, Leopard tortoise, Speke’s hinged tortoise and a brown house snake. They have also collected a multitude of scorpions, ground beetles and a number of dung beetles. This season the team will be working in 11 sites in the south of the park from Tshokwane down to Crocodile Bridge over the next 6 weeks, finishing at the end of January 2008.