The African camera trap destroyers…

Camera trapping in the UK is not without risk. That risk usually comes from the great apes that live on these islands; humans.

NatureSpy have all manner of deterrents attached and stuck on to our camera traps, all with the purpose of trying to persuade any great ape that comes across them to leave them alone.

However, in other parts of the world, its not just humans that you have to worry about.

Last week we received an email from Dr. Kobus Lubbe, Director of Operations at The Nature College in South Africa. The Nature College run training courses for field guides and game rangers, and also work closely with the University of South Wales and their BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology course.

The email ended with a tongue-in-cheek question and picture;

“Any ideas on how to fix a slightly modified camera trap such as this one?”

Camera trap destroyed by hyena

More of a jigsaw puzzle than a camera trap… (Photo: Dr. Kobus Lubbe, The Nature College)

Obviously, a little bit of glue and some soldering isn’t going to cut it in this case – this camera trap has ceased to be.

But that leaves the question; who, or what, is responsible?

Thankfully, Kobus provided us with the answer. This camera trap diligently kept working as long as it could whilst its killer went about its task, and the SD card survived.

Hyena camera trap South Africa

‘That camera trap looks chewable’ (Photo: Dr. Kobus Lubbe, The Nature College)

Hyena camera trap South Africa

(Photo; Dr. Kobus Lubbe, The Nature College)

It is of course the spotted hyena. An inquisitive nature coupled with unbelievably strong jaws equates to an unfortunate situation for a camera trap.

And no amount of reasoning or polite notices saying ‘this camera trap is for environmental monitoring’ or ‘this camera is forensically protected’ are going to stop the hyena sharpening its teeth.

Hyena camera trap South Africa

The end of the road. (Photo: Dr. Kobus Lubbe, The Nature College)

Hyenas are fairly well known for being partial to the odd camera trap. But if camera trapping in South Africa, there are plenty of other beasts that may take a dim view of having their picture taken. Elephants and baboons can be problematic – the fantastic Snapshot Serengeti project reported losing 90 camera traps in just 6 months to elephants, hyenas and fire damage. That quickly gets expensive!

The worst we’ve ever had from a non-human animal in the UK is from badgers – they love to sniff and shove camera traps, smearing mud all over them in the process.

Badgers camera trap hibernation

This badger heads straight for the camera trap

But we’d much rather have a muddy working camera trap than a new jigsaw puzzle to complete…

Big thanks to Dr. Kobus Lubbe at The Nature College for sending us these images and allowing us to show them, and to Dr. Roy Wiles, International Wildlife Biology course leader at the University of South Wales.

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