12 April 2014

Loving The Lagomorph

When I started camera trapping at Koeberg I wondered whether I'll be lucky enough to get some Lagomorph action. I haven't seen any Lagomorphs close to Cape Town and after no sign of any hares (yes hares, not rabbits) after years of camera trapping at Tygerberg I had renewed hope for Koeberg. Sadly, after the first few hare-free months I gave up on finding them at Koeberg as well.

So, I was very excited when I got this photo below! When you place a camera trap you have some idea of what you will get and what you might get, but it is really great when a species pops up that you didn't even think of (or gave up on months ago).

Cape Hare (Vlakhaas - Lepus capensis) at Koeberg Nature Reserve

I'm pretty sure that this is a Cape Hare, but I hope to get some more photos to make absolutely sure. We have two species of hare here in South Africa and they are fairly tricky to tell apart. The distribution of both species overlap for large parts of the country, they look more-or-less alike and both can vary considerably in colour and size. The one species prefers slightly more open habitat and the other more cover, but there is a large overlap in habitat preference as well.

I don't know how accurate this is, but I have a feeling that around here (Cape Town) the hare populations have decreased somewhat in recent years. I haven't lived here long enough to know first hand, but based on what I've heard it sounds like they might have been more common 15-25 years ago. My gut feeling would be that the high number of Caracal combined with habitat loss and other ecosystem degradation might be putting a lot of strain on the populations.

The thing with camera trapping is that most photographs aren't "that great" quality, like the hare above, but every now and again you get a fun photograph like the one below.

Small Grey Mongoose (Kleingrysmuishond - Galerella pulverulenta) giving the camera trap a smile

I'll wrap up with this interesting large beetle I photographed at Koeberg. It is amazing what you can find while you are busy setting up a camera trap.

The larvae of the Obese Lily Weevil (Brachycerus obesus) feed on lily bulbs, the adults prefer young leaves

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