Biodiversity Surveys in Punda Maria

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By Caroline Schlutius, Yale University ‘18

Caroline is currently in South Africa with our Spring 2017 African Ecology and Conservation program.

While in Punda Maria, a site in the far north of Kruger National Park, we had the chance to conduct biodiversity surveys of several sites throughout the area. At 05:20h sharp, my alarm sounded the start of the day and I jumped up to get ready before meeting the rest of our crew at 05:45h. We drove to our first site in silence, slowly waking up to the sound of the dawn chorus as the sun lit the landscape.

At our first site, we jumped out of the game drive vehicle and marched into the bush, stopping about 100 meters in to do our first bird survey.

Luckily, I had several avid birders in my group this morning, and I stood posed with my pen over paper while they scanned the horizon or listen intently for calls, spouting off names of species almost more quickly than I could write them.

After the allotted time, we made our way to the butterfly trap, which had attracted butterflies and moths with a pungent concoction of beer, bananas, and brown sugar. We put our specimens in envelopes before heading to the next site and repeating the process.

Later in the afternoon, we head out once more to conduct vegetation, reptile, and active butterfly catching surveys. The ensuing hours passed in a haze of tree identification and measurement, running around with butterfly nets, and scanning the ground intently for signs of reptile presence. Finally, exhausted, we hop in the car and head back to the camp, basking in the mopane and baobab dotted landscape and another incredible day in the savanna.

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