|The western slope of Tygerberg Nature Reserve|
More than half of Tygerberg is covered by very dens growing shrubs. Below is a map of Tygerberg that shows where I have camera trapped thus far (including a few general observations, mostly tortoises).
|Map of Tygerberg and my camera trap spots|
As you can see I'm clearly more active on the eastern slope. It's also worth mentioning that the main entrance to the reserve is on the eastern side as well.
I've been wanting to trap more on the western slope, but it can be a tough walk to get to the cameras and back. But mostly I find it very tricky to find a good spot in the dense vegetation.
|An "average sample" of the western slope|
One of the things I'm curious about is what animals actually move about in this sort of habitat? It is very difficult for me to move from point A to B without a path. Luckily if you look hard enough, every now and again, you might stumble across something that looks more promising for camera trapping: a small or faint trail.
|Hidden amongst the shrubs there is a small path (this is one of the clearest I've found yet)|
I'm trying to trap in areas that I have been avoiding up to now. I've been avoiding them because they look less promising and trickier to setup the cameras in. The path above looked good, so I placed a camera there after opening it up a bit more by cutting back a few twigs and clearing out the dead branches.
|My next source of 700+ photos of moving vegetation in, I predict, 3.5 hours (sans-animal I'm sure)|
Another problem is that I have only 3 camera. Two Bushnell Trophy Cams and one Cuddeback Capture. Both cameras models are great under the correct conditions that suit them best, but on the western slope both models have some limitations.
The Bushnells' detection zone is very wide. This week one of my cameras filled the SD card in the first 4 hours after I placed it thanks to the wind and the vegetation on the sides of the path, even after I thought I cleared everything that might lead to a large number of a false triggers. The worst part is that I only checked it a week later, so it was 6+ days lost. (The result of which is this blog post and you, poor readers, now have to suffer the consequences of my reckless, amateurish and irresponsible actions.)
The Cuddeback has the opposite problem. It has a very narrow detection zone and works best when positioned to look across the trail. Under the circumstances on the western slope it is difficult to find a good trail where the camera can be placed sufficiently far back to take decent pictures and still point across the trail. The Cuddeback has severe problems when monitoring an "area" such as a small pool. Even when 2 trails meet can get very tricky to place the camera for optimal coverage.
But, there is some good news also. I believe that it is thanks to these challenges and complications that most camera trappers do what they do and enjoy the good times so much more :)