Wildlife Watching – Monitoring Wild Animals

trail camera 4Tracking and monitoring of wildlife are prior steps to their conservation. Africa on its own provides a habitat to over 400 species of wild animals which are endangered. Tracking and monitoring these animals provides essential data on movement patterns, population demographics, and habitat utilization.

Additionally, tracking and monitoring provide information about snaring, breakouts and poaching incidents which are useful in wildlife conservation. Despite monitoring being an important wildlife conservation step, the majority of African game reserves lack the capacity and adequate funds to effectively track and monitor their wildlife. Several volunteer bodies and organizations such as wildlife ACT provide wildlife tracking and monitoring services free of charge. The data they obtain has managerial applications such as planning strategies on how to introduce and remove Africa’s wildlife.

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There are different types of equipment that are used to track and monitor wildlife. Among the most common and increasing in popularity is the use of trail cameras. Trail cameras initially were used to study animal activity and behavior in various African game reserves among other applications. Today trail cameras have been digitalized to a high extent. They have compact flash or digital card, power supply and visible or invisible flash. Additionally, they are equipped with a trigger mechanism which is enclosed in a weatherproof shell. The shell can be attached to a tree or a raised object. Modern trail cameras are designed to take still photographs of detected animals and short video clips according to the settings. Invisible flash technology in advanced wireless trail cameras has provided clear and still photos of animals at close range without disturbing the animal or endangering it.

When hunting, photos from trail cameras provide identification of individuals that are ready for harvest. Managers are therefore able to determine which animal is ready for harvesting. Organized trophy hunt are usually set in most African game reserves. Various contestants both foreign and local compete for the trophy in the hunting expedition. The weapon used by the hunters is exclusively determined by the safari hunt organization and differs from safari to safari. Usually, there is a final reward for the best hunter and a chance to be featured on the book records as per the policy of the safari hunt.

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Mechanism of Action

Trail cameras work by a simple mechanism. Animals passing by produce heat which can be detected by the camera. The motion of the animal can also trigger trail cameras within a particular distance (usually 60 feet). The sensitivity of the camera trigger is adjustable to provide optimized use of night and day settings. Traditionally there was a challenge on the memory size and battery life. Modern trail cameras have advanced battery life and separate memory card that can support mass storage greater than 1,000 pictures. Currently, trail cameras can operate for more than 150 days depending on a specific model without the need to recharge the battery. Also, separate accessories such as solar panels and external battery packs can be purchased together with a trail camera to provide extended life. Internet-enabled mobile devices can be used to monitor the activity and operation of a trail camera without necessarily moving close.

Time saving is one of the most important advantages of using a trail camera. Trail cameras provide extra observational advantage along game trails for feeders, hunters and rarely observable wild animals. With trail cameras, you don’t need to stay all day long and night waiting for a traced animal to pass by your camera trap. As mentioned earlier internet access can facilitate watching even during the night. For more enthusiastic wildlife monitors, trail cameras provide inclusive behavioral patterns that are rarely observed.

Trail Camera Placement

Quantity and Placement of trail cameras differ significantly from one wildlife reserve to another. Other factors such as the objectives and goals for setting the camera determine the number and subsequent placement.  Trail cameras are on the high demand in most African game reserves to observe behavior patterns and population size of various wild animals. Daily activities in wildlife monitoring and tracking in most African game reserves revolve around tracking and monitoring endangered animals. These include among others the African wild dog, black rhino, cheetah, and vultures. Tracking and monitoring these endangered species provides information on how they are affected by their ecology and priority species. Priority species include hyena, elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and white rhino. The endangered species are tracked and monitored on a daily basis to ensure their conservation.

Trail cameras are set at strategic places where the animals feed and quench their thirst. Simple tools such as the internet enabled devices are then used to track the behavior, number, and ecological effect.

Common Activities involved in Monitoring and Conservation

  • Re-introduction and relocation of wild animals
  • Monitoring nocturnal animals such as the hyena
  • Controlling alien vegetation
  • Bird ringing
  • Rescuing animals from traps laid by poachers
  • Tagging animals for identity
  • Setting trail cameras in strategic places
  • Nest survey and vulture count

Things to Include to the Backpack When Hunting in Wildlife

backpack 1Tactical backpacks come in different sizes and have different specifications. Most tactical backpacks can have more than one use apart from carrying items for outdoor hunting activities. They can be used as a daily carry bag or even when traveling. However, when choosing a hunting backpack, it’s important to consider the items the backpack can accommodate. Tactical backpacks come in different varieties of brands, shapes, colors, and sizes. When choosing a backpack one important thing to put in mind is the comfort. This can be described by how the bag lies on your back, as well as the grip of the hip straps and shoulder straps. The reliable backpacks are designed to provide comfort at different degrees and it’s thus an important issue to consider.

In addition, a good tactical backpack should be air tight. A common method of hunting is the use of scent and lure items to entice animals. Such items include drag rags and scent wicks, which have a strong unpleasant smell. To keep away this smell, an air tight bag is always required during hunting.

backpack 2Another important aspect to consider in tactical backpacks revolves around a number of pockets and compartments. A backpack with many compartments and side pockets provides a better organization of items. This ensures hunters avoid wasting time by knowing exactly where each item is in their backpack. Most importantly a hunting backpack should be able to accommodate the following important items.

Weapon Attachments

backpack 5It goes without saying; a weapon is the most important item when hunting. Most hunters prefer firearms while others prefer a bow hunting technique. Regardless of the weapon of choice, a hunter should choose a backpack that can accommodate the weapon attachments such as rifle magazines. But always remember to have a valid license and professional training to ensure the safety of the other hunters or the participants in the shooting range.

Hunter Certificate

In every game reserve, there is abundant illegal poaching of wild animals. A hunter should have a hunting certificate as a proof of expertise and experience. A hunting license is provided prior to completion and the acquisition of the hunter education certificate. The hunting license is, therefore, an important item to be included in the backpack.

Hunting Knife

This is an important tool for a hunter and an item which should never lack in the backpack. A good hunting knife should be of the best quality. Hunting knives have varying sizes of the blade. A hunting knife is suitable for short range attack, as well as cutting small twigs blocking your way. However, if the plan is to hunt big game, a hunting knife with a bigger blade is preferred. High-quality hunting knives offer firm grip in the hand.

First aid kit

A first aid kit is also an important item never missing in a backpack. A first aid kit is a precautionary step when embarking on any journey to the woods. One never knows what will happen in the woods, it’s impossible to avoid cuts and abrasions all day long. The kit, therefore, should contain alcohol swabs to clean the cuts, antibiotic cream for preventing infections and badges of different sizes.

Survival kit

backpack 4While hunting in the wilderness, one never knows what will happen in the next moment and you might find yourself lost in the jungle. A survival kit is, therefore, important and should be put in a waterproof bag. It contains waterproof matches, Mylar heating blanket, fire starter, rope, a compass, extra batteries, emergency food supplies and a water purifying tablet.

Supply of wet wipes

Hunting is a messy adventure and in the event of a kill, there is no avoiding blood on your body. A supply of wet wipes will come in handy during these times, so ensure your backpack doesn’t lack them.

Hunting Apparel

Hunting adventure is fun when a hunter is comfortable. Mode of dressing will dictate a happy and a successful hunt. Good boots that can withstand a full day hunt are recommended. Liners and thick socks are also a recommendation for warmth and comfort. Hurting feet pose a difficult hunt and therefore it’s always important to carry an extra pair of socks and liners in your backpack, in case your feet get wet. Bright hunting jackets or clothing is a recommendation when hunting, keeps hunters visible to their colleague hunters.

Lastly, hunting is an exciting activity and a hobby. But without the proper organization, it can turn out to be tiresome, not rewarding, boring, and hectic. It all starts by organizing your backpack and ensuring that all items are in place before embarking on the hunt.  Always consider durability and comfort when selecting a backpack. A good quality backpack won’t be torn even when walking through thick bushes, and therefore your items will be kept safe throughout.

The Rules of Hunting Wildlife

rules of hunting 2Hunting is an art or a practice of killing an animal, mostly the wild game. It is done for a number of reasons including food, trade, and security. Remember, there are those that pose danger not only to other animals but also to humans. But, very few animals are killed simply because they are dangerous to humans. Hunting is basically considered as an outdoor fun, even though traditional Africans kill them for food.

During the early days in the African continent, hunting was a recreation activity which provided food for families. Some communities defined their wealth and nobleness on the basis of hunting. The expert hunters were considered rich and respected people in the society.

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Today, hunting wildlife in Africa is not only done by Africans but also foreign hunters. They hunt for specific animals including the big five game, deer, gazelles, warthog, and wildebeest among others. These animals are hunted because of their products and wild meat, but almost all countries strictly prohibit hunting of endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos. Hunting such animals is illegal and is known as poaching.

Hunting wildlife in Africa is becoming immensely popular because most of the animals are found easily in their natural habitats, though not in all African countries. Some of the animals are found in national parks, and the overseas hunters can find them when accompanied by a professional safari guide. Africa is visited by hunters from different countries such as USA, Asian, and European countries. That is why nowadays hunting has been given a new name ‘trophy hunting’. This is because hunting of the animals especially the ‘big five’, for instance, buffalos is so rewarding especially in abroad.

One of the famous African countries that are commonly visited for wildlife hunting is South Africa. It is the most popular though most of the hunting takes place in closed areas as private activities. Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique are among other countries rich in wildlife. However, each country is renowned for specific species of animals that attract visitors annually. Hunting wildlife in Africa is one of the economic activities, and hunters usually pay permit fees in order to hunt.

Apart from legal requirements for any hunter out there, the activity requires specific use of hunting equipment. From hunting clothes to hunting tools, a hunter should be prepared for going out. A wisely selected hunting rifle with a reliable scope is quite essential. One of the most recommended guns is the AR-15. So, why use an AR-15 and rifle scope when hunting?

ar 15The AR-15 rifle is one of the popular hunting guns, and that is why many hunters rely on them for exceptional hunting. They have essential features to assist the hunter, and they are known for accuracy especially during target shooting. It is also praised for a good knock down power and thus the hunter needs just a single shot to down that buck. AR-15 rifles are a bit easy to carry around because of their relatively light weight. A hunter can move from one place to another without feeling fatigue and tiredness. The AR-15 rifle is reliable when it comes to open air hunting because they offer a wide and long- range for shooting. Therefore, they assist a hunter to down an animal even at a far distance. Modularity of the AR rifles is also an added advantage because of its compatibility and versatility.

On the other hand, an AR-15 rifle is said to be incomplete if it does not have a rifle scope. The scopes direct and give the hunter a closer grip while making a shot or when focusing on target prey. Their specific features make a complete accompaniment of the AR-15 rifle when going for hunting. The scopes have an accuracy of 20 inch which is advantageous to the hunter. Night scopes offer an advantage of light transmission during night hunting. This makes it easier for the hunter because night hunting is made easier. Since there are some animals that come out at night or can be found in areas or places with a little amount of light e.g. caves and thick forests.

The wildlife hunting in Africa has been increasing over the years. However, dishonest people are tarnishing the good exercise through illegal hunting and poaching. The unlawful hunting for endangered animals such elephants due to high demand for ivory is highly threatening. Some of the species are becoming extinct and thus more strict measures need to be taken.

In conclusion, wildlife hunting is an activity that should be done for tourism, leisure, and food. It should not be done for illegal trade of animal products. Every human has a responsibility to take care of the wild animals. Therefore, we should stand against poaching and illegal ivory trade that is endangering the existence of African rhinos and elephants.

A New Hunting Trend – Growth of Crossbow Use

crossbow 1Crossbow hunting is a unique and familiar outdoor activity in many countries, especially in the African continent where there are various safari services. Even though the practice is not found in every wildlife parks and reserves, a number of countries offer general tourism services. For example, South Africa and Namibia are among the top leading countries where tourism is highly carried out. Other countries rich in wildlife are found in the eastern, western, and northern regions of the continent.

A number of African safaris have been on the rise over the years. Actually, they are governed by state government laws and therefore providing tourists with safe, legal, and unforgettable jungle experiences. The crossbow hunting outfitters in Africa have been on the forefront in providing some of the best hunting experiences to foreigners and local hunters. The activity is undoubtedly on the rise, with quite a considerate number of hunting Safaris offering the services. It is a top notch outdoor activity that tourists get to enjoy, learn new things about African wildlife, and interact with traditional communities.

Where is the fun?

Crossbow 4Sometimes hunting in the forest is not just a walk in the park. The bow hunting is quite rewarding, though sometimes extremely challenging. The challenge is a characteristic of a human daily life activity whereby, if no challenge, there is no experience, and therefore no learning involved. It involves a wide assortment of game species to hunt. Some of these games include lions, buffalos, hippopotamus, and leopards in South Africa. Some countries, however, do not allow hunting of dangerous game. For instance, the only permissible dangerous game hunting in Namibia is the Cheetah. It will depend on laws governing wildlife in a country.

In addition to making a trip to Africa a memorable one, there is a variety of trophies that hunters walk away with. In Namibia, for example, the hunting safaris provide amazing and exceptional quality trophies and a chance to be featured in their top 10 all-time book record of the professional hunting associations.

Drawback Weights and Crossbow to Use

CrossbowThere are different types of bows used in bow hunting. Their scope and variety differ from country to country. A legal permit is provided by a government to the hunting safaris or the service provider. For example, the longbow, compound, and re-curve bows are legally permitted in South Africa. The compound bow is a weapon of choice by most sportsmen internationally, and it is commonly used in various South African safaris. Laws permit different draw weight in accordance with the type of game being hunted. The minimum draw weights permissible vary considerably. 50lbs are the minimum draw weight when hunting plains game while 95lbs for dangerous game.

The hunting safaris provide training and ensure that hunters are comfortable with the equipment used throughout the hunting time. It’s important to ensure good practice to improve skills for a well-placed shot and subsequent skill in tracking the wounded animal. Skills on full camouflage and scent detection during hunting expedition are important to master by hunters.

Hunting Area and Timing

Crossbow 2Winter period is the best time of the year when crossbow hunting thrives at its best (late May to early September). During this time, indigenous trees have already shed leaves and spotting an animal becomes easier. The logic behind this is scarcity in the amount of water available for the animals, and therefore they crowd around the waterholes to cut thirst. The woodland savanna harboring the majority of African wildlife provides a concession area that allows bow hunting. The terrain offers an inclusive environment despite the open grassland and mountains.

The Common Crossbow Hunting Techniques

Crossbow 3Different blinds are used, ranging from thatched grass to ground blinds. They are laid on strategic game trails where they are likely to pass or be encountered by walking animals. Ground blinds are usually set near the animal waterholes which yield a lot of success during the late afternoon and early morning hours. Perfect positioning provides a predetermined win during these times of the day.

Hunting safaris encourage different bow hunting methods which involve the use of strategically set hunting blinds, elevated stands, and ground hides during winter months. They are set at a considerable distance, usually ranging from 10-40 yards closer enough to the game to have a perfect shot without being spotted by the target animal.

Last but not least, spot and stalk technique is another bow hunting method. It is usually applied during the green season since a lot of vegetation cover is available. The green bush is also soft and reduces stalking noise. During this time the amount of water available is enough and therefore less game near waterholes. This method is ideal for hunting those animals that rarely visits waterholes. Also, it goes hand-in-hand with the surrounding camouflage for a successful hunt.