March 16, 2019
Finding the bushbuck last week was a victory, but we found ourselves faced with a new task: we needed to find a female bushbuck.
The bushbuck we had recorded was a male; the horns and darker coat coloration made that evident. But now our priority was finding a female. Why was finding a female bushbuck so important? Well, Gullele is interested in protecting the bushbuck, and if we identify potential for a breeding pair, Gullele’s resident bushbuck become established residents rather than a few lone animals passing through the area. Having a breeding pair is a step toward a more permanent bushbuck group which the garden can begin to create a management plan for.
So we remounted the cameras. We adjusted, clipped some branches, and ultimately crossed our fingers, hoping that the horn-less, red-coated female Menelik Bushbuck would appear. On Tuesday, we set out down the winding paths of the garden to check our cameras; the sun was climbing to its mid-morning peak and the day was rapidly heating up. That’s why we were so surprised when a female Menelik Bushbuck casually strolled out in front of us, flicked her ears toward us as she froze, and then bolted off into the brush.
We were silent for a minute because our luck was just so good. We investigated the scrubby area she had vanished into and found a game trail. Following it, we found a habitat almost identical to the habitat we had found the male bushbuck in.
Thrilled, we made plans to come back another day, do some plant species inventories, and properly measure and analyze the area. We’re hoping that the areas the bushbuck is frequenting have common features, and just by sight alone I think that’s exactly the case. If these bushbuck have specific habitat preferences that we can record and meticulously describe, Gullele can work on protecting and promoting these areas and ultimately foster a healthy bushbuck population at Gullele.
Our next steps are to do some plant species identification walks; thank goodness I’m surrounded by botanists!
In other fun news, we found this cool porcupine quill!
Talitha is a religion and biology major from Flagstaff, Arizona.