Ongava Research Centre Blog...

2015 - Week 8
- (Added 22. Feb. 2015 - 11:00)

We routinely monitor our boundaries using camera traps, especially our common boundary with Etosha National Park. This camera trap is looking from our electric fence towards the Etosha fence, across ‘no-man’s-land’. Here we see a female caracal moving one of her kittens – it may be that her den was disturbed, or she felt under threat from another predator. She is about to use a hole made by a warthog to enter Etosha, presumably looking for a safer place for her kitten. Let’s hope she finds one!

2015 - Week 7
- (Added 15. Feb. 2015 - 11:00)

A close up camera trap shot of the hide of a giraffe. We can tell this is an adult breeding male, since they are the only individuals that have a darker coat – as opposed to ‘giraffe yellow’. This colour often deepens with age. Males that do not attain breeding status keep their yellow color, so presumably this darkening of colour is testosterone-related. How does the giraffe ‘know’ how create the colour pattern we see on their coats? The question is relevant for any animal that has a variable pattern of colours – how does any one patch express a particular pigmentation (spots on leopards, stripes on zebra, etc.)? Recent research suggests this is about the differential expression of specific genes in the skin cells. The underlying pattern is thought to be laid down as the skin develops, then local differences in pigmentation are coded by a gene that influences how colours are presented.

2015 - Week 6
- (Added 8. Feb. 2015 - 11:00)

Our general manager captured by camera trap in pensive mode at one of our remote waterholes… Reminiscent of the film ‘Field of Dreams’ – If I build it they will come

2015 - Week 5
- (Added 1. Feb. 2015 - 11:00)

Open wide! No purple fruit on Ongava, so we must assume this young male’s tongue actually is purple… Probably just as well our camera traps are in those metal enclosures. Not that they would withstand a determined elephant… 

2015 - Week 4
- (Added 25. Jan. 2015 - 11:00)

We mostly assume that cats keep themselves very clean, and certainly that seems to be case with domestic cats – often they preen their fur after they have been wet or muddy. This lion doesn’t quite seem to be doing the same! In fact the whole pride were covered in what we call ‘sticky grass’. This is not quite the same species as is found in the northern hemisphere (Galium aparine, or Goosegrass, Sticky Willow) but a species of Pennisetum. The concept is however the same, sticky burrs adhere to passing animals and hence disperse the seed. Impossible to get off socks. And lions, it seems.

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discovery is in our nature

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