Day two of the Defender Trophy has kicked off to an early start, with the team taking bribes of freshly brewed camping coffee, for answers to the Wild Dog car questionnaire.
The trophy started midday yesterday with a crossing of the fast flowing Mutale River and ended with the last teams coming through EWT’s IDing challenges after midnight. It was a magnificent bush evening with shooting stars, Spotted Hyaenas in the distance and African Scops Owls overhead. The guys had to ID the spoor of three major carnivores, the scat of Wild Dog predators and ID common Wild Dog prey.
There were some very amusing answers, due to either the long tiring 4x4ing in the dark, or the urgency to get back to camp to crack open that first beer. According to some, Cheetahs squeak and Wild Dogs grunt when calling their mates; the scientific name of a Hyaena is Malema and the Cheetah is Brian Habana and the IUcN red list status of the Wild Dog is desperate – that last answer we’d tend to agree with!!
The aim of this first day was to create an awareness and appreciation for your surrounding environment. Other challenges included tree and plant identification and learning other fascinating facts around interacting with nature. The participants of this event are the very South Africans who should have a love and appreciation for the bush. The next four days, with the encouragment of the EWT team and the Defender Trophy team, will most definitely instill a deeper knowledge and respect for nature, wildlife, biodiversity and definitely our Wild Dogs and the activities of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
For the rest of the morning we’ll be learning about the legends of the Venda region, sharing some of our own bush encounters and conservation trials and successes and enjoying the steady influx of coffee, rusks (and other luxuries) as the teams rotate through the campsite to pick our brains.
This afternoon we head back into the bush to teach the participants how to track down a wounded Wild Dog… Pics and updates to follow.
The collars used to track Wild Dogs, can cost anything between R20 and R50 thousand. You can become a part of the solution to save wild dogs by making your small donation here: