Warthog collaring

By Tim Hoffmeester and Merlijn de Graaf

During the last couple of weeks, the Welgevonden LOA management and two students from Wageningen University in the Netherlands have been busy with the collaring of three warthogs.

These GPS collars record the exact location of the individual warthogs every two hours.

This information will be used to learn more about the habitat use of the warthogs in Welgevonden.

In theory, the warthogs will forage on short, nutrient rich grass, which provides the best food and a good chance of spotting predators from a distance, thereby reducing predation risk.

The GPS-data, together with landscape and vegetation data collected by the two students, will be used to analyse the habitat use of the warthogs and establish if this theory is true.

It turned out to be more difficult than expected to fit a warthog with a collar. In the beginning of the year cage-traps were used to try and catch the warthogs, but they appeared to be wise to the intentions of the sun-baked students. During the last couple of weeks a new method was applied.

The warthogs were darted from a vehicle, after which the trail of the warthog was followed using a tracking dog. It was feared that the warthogs would disappear in their burrows, but luckily this was not the case. It proved easier than expected to find the warthogs and fit them with their collars.

As part of the larger research project, 10 wildebeest and 10 zebra have been collared as well as most of the lion groupings. This will allow the research programme to study the interaction of all the species involved and their habitat use.