Friday, February 27, 2009

The epic adventure of camera trapping jaguars by Karen Dykxhoorn

There are afternoons that present themselves as mostly sunny ones, but end up revealing a few scattered rain showers just to keep jungle voyagers on their toes. It was on one such afternoon that the assembled quintet of intrepid travellers embarked upon their journey.

The team was as follows: Tom [a distinguished anhinga], Sarah [a bold armadillo], Lindsay [a fierce moth], and myself [a formidable jaguar]. The plan, as briefed by our fearless leader, Sara [a confused 2-snouted tapir] was twofold:

TASK 1: Make your way from Mile(M)15 southward to M16. At this position team must locate camera traps, disable traps and examine any contents. Remove traps, conceal on person and travel to M15 to complete Task 2.

TASK 2: Locate optimal position for new trap placement. Optimal position will serve to intercept jaguar (and other unsuspecting mammals and birds) in their tracks. Test traps by taking group picture. Once completed this task go back to pickup location.

As we were a brave assemblage of individuals, the team was not daunted by this task, and even the densest of forest and deepest of pits of muck and mire would not be able to impede our quest. Naturally, we opted for jungle travel, as opposed to travelling along the beach, as the jungle would provide optimal coverage from any predators.

We made it to M16 without an incident, and set to completing TASK 1. Whilst examining contents of said camera traps, we could not contain our shouts of glee when we discovered that both an armadillo, and a common opossum were clearly visible on the film. [Little did we know that upon inspection at Base, two more species would be revealed: a Central American woolly opossum and the hind quarters of a red brocket deer. Had the team know this information at the time, even more exuberant shouts of glee would have been appropriate! Tom, however, being of the upper-middle class of anhingas, and this having been his first mission, was unimpressed by these results.

With TASK 1 completed, the team was eager to continue onto TASK 2.

After some minor deliberation, our fearless leader located the most advantageous location to place the traps. The team had almost completed TASK 2 with just the final photo to be taken when anarchy ensued.

While the anhinga posed proudly in the background, and the dual-snouted tapir looked on, and the moth hid behind us all, I (the jaguar) was no longer able to control my instincts, and pounced on the helpless armadillo (see picture below). Fortunately (for the armadillo), the tapir intervened and separated us with her 2 snouts, and we were able to amiably continue on our way.

With both tasks completed, our gang of misfits headed back to the pickup location with a sense of a job very well done.