Campus after dark

Campus after dark

Some images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19. 

BY: Darryn Murray

Camp manager blogs are written by our students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

While sitting around the campfire in the evening after a busy day of learning, writing tests and doing activities like safari drives, we at Bushwise are treated to the sounds of lions roaring in the distance, jackals, hyenas – and every so often, leopards – calling in the darkness, with the feeling of the crisp bush air surrounding us.

 

Bushwise students sitting around the camp fire.

Photo by: Ben Klunder

 

Recently, at about 11:00 pm one evening, I heard a commotion in the car park. I walked out onto my porch, armed only with a torch, to investigate the noise. All I could see moving about in the torchlight was a bushbuck. 

Early the next morning, a few of us did a bit of CSI-type investigating.  The bushbuck I spotted the night before had been attacked by a leopard on campus! 

Footprints, drag marks in the sand and a few drops of blood were all the clues that we had to work with. 

Not long after we discussed the signs we found, we spotted the bushbuck, still alive and walking gingerly near the dam on campus. A day later, however, he succumbed to his injuries not far from where he had been seen the day before.

 

Bushwise students identifying an animal print on the ground.

 

With the help (and camera trap) of Spencer Gallant, a fellow student at Bushwise, we set up a camera near the bushbuck carcass, hoping we’d get some images of the leopard coming back to feed.

By this stage, we were all very excited to see if the leopard would return. We made a pact to leave the camera up, undisturbed, for a week before going to check and see what surprises awaited us. At the end of the week, we saw there was still so much meat left on the carcass, which meant the leopard probably hadn’t returned yet. So, we decided to leave the camera set up for another week, and quickly changed the SD card and batteries.

Let’s take a look at what we discovered.

A selection of the first week’s images

Photos by: Spencer Gallant

A porcupine spotted in a camera trap.
A porcupine strolling by the camera.

 

An African civet spotted in the camera trap.
An African civet posing for the camera close to the carcass.

 

A side-striped jackal was also spotted in the camera trap.
A side-striped jackal curiously looking at the camera.

 

As the images were loading on the laptop, there was excitement in the air. We went through roughly 600 images, but not a single one revealed a leopard. To say that everyone was a little disappointed would be the understatement of the year, but we remained hopeful that the second week’s batch would yield the images we were after.

The second week’s images

Week two seemed to drag on while we were waiting for the pictures, but as the saying goes, “All good things come to those who wait.” 

There were cheers of excitement all around as the first images of the leopard came up on screen.

 

A leopard was spotted on the camera trap.

Photo by: Spencer Gallant

 

At last, the leopard that we had all been waiting for.

The leopard feeding during the early hours of the morning while everyone was asleep.

All in all, it was a great experience for us students to see some of the animals that move around campus in the dark while we’re all asleep. Even though we don’t see them very often, we now know for sure they’re around, and probably see us far more than we see them.

What creatures do you think you’d discover on campus after dark? There’s only one way to find out – join a course.