Project Update: December 2015




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Project Update: December 2015
This time, the trip took place late October 2015 after discussions on security. The way to the site has become very insecure that there is even a ban to use part of the road late afternoon or early morning because there are many attacks in villages in the first third of the trip. So, we undertook to leave on 22nd October. We arrived at the entry point on 24th October 2015.
T
Figure 1 Prince Kaleme (second left) with a team exploring the places to set up the nets.
he reserve has now new staff members among them, ladies (two researchers: Jessica and Aline). They were appointed as our team members by the Chief warden to accompany us in the monitoring task as all the preliminary parts of censusing caves has been carried out (even if some caves are not known to date). The students of last year also volunteered to be part of the team as they are in their home land.
The aim this time was to monitor bats in the known caves, especially, which species are present at what time of the year. Three researchers were ready for this trip: Prince Kaleme, Jacques Mwanga and Benjamin Ndara took part in the field work.
The team started the work on 26th October after all logistic arrangements (purchase of ration, basic medicines and preservation products (alcohol and formalin) as well as other equipments that are useful for this kind of work.
T
Figure 2. Two rangers with Benjamin Ndara (red gum boots and a laboratory staff) discussing some issues on the work.
wo types of habitats were explored old secondary forest was dominated by species such as Musanga cecropioides, Myrianthus arboreus, and primary forest with predominance of Cynometra alexandri, Cynometra ankei, Diospiros sp., Peptadeniastrum africanum, Canarium sp. The undergrowth in secondary forest was dominated by species such as Afromomum spp., Halopegia sp.

Figure 3: Left: The team in the forest on the way back from collecting specimens in the morning. Here, the forest is poor in undergrowth. Right: Sam setting a Sherman live trap.


Activities

We decided to have two main activities in the reserve:




  1. Train the new team members on how to work with nets.

  2. Sample bats inside and outside of caves to detect the existing species in the area.


Methods

Mist Nets were set either in caves, at cave entry or in the forest. The mist nets were opened at 0630 and closed at 1000. For trapping, we used sherman live traps (50) set in two types of habitats: secondary forest and along streams. Mist nets were set in, at cave entry and in the forest.


Figure 4: Left: A ranger and one of the researcher (Jessica) setting the nets in late afternoon. Right: The team at the work table confirming identification of specimens (Aline at the corner).


Individuals were removed from nets and put in collection bags. At the camp, individuals were taken one by one for identification. After identification, they were released. Some voucher specimens were collected for the ones for which identification was not possible or when we could not confirm using field guide or our knowledge of the species. For identifications, we used Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa (Stuart and Stuart, 2007) and Monadjem et al. (2010).
Results

Bats were collected from mist nets. Stapes were followed to allow the new team members to be adapted to the work. They were shown the important measurements and features to look at in identifying bats.


We collected a total of 110 bat specimens belonging to 9 species (see table 1). The fruit bats were abundant compared to insectivore bats. But one species, hammer-headed fruit bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus) was not collected from nets. It was recorded by the call. It is abundant during fruit season.
The terrestrial small mammals were represented by 64 specimens with Jackson's Praomys being the most abundant, followed by the dark-colored bush-furred rat (Lophuromys aquilus). The least abundant species was the Dudu's bush-furred rat (Lophuromys dudui).
During this season, many bats species were present in caves but the numbers were not so high as some times of the year.

Figure 5. A bat after identification, before being released.


Bat species recorded
Table 1. List of bat species recorded

No

Common name

Species

Obs.

1

Jackson's Praomys

Praomys jacksoni (de Winton, 1897)

Mouse

2

Striped mice

Lemniscomys striatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Mouse

3

Striped mice

Lemniscomys sp.

Mouse

4

Dark-colored bush-furred rat

Lophuromys aquilus (True, 1892)

Rat

5

Dudu's bush-furred rat

Lophuromys dudui (Verheyen, Hulselmans, Dierckx & Verheyen, 2002)

Rat

6

Hybomys

Hybomys univitatus (Thomas, 1906)

Mouse

7

Allen's wood mouse

Hylomyscus alleni (Thomas, 1911)

Mouse

8

Common Oenomys

Oenomys hypoxanthus (Pucheran, 1855)

Rat

9

Greater long-fingered bat

Miniopterus cf. inflatus Thomas, 1903

Bat

10

Natal long-fingered bat

Miniopterus natalensis (A. Smith, 1834)

Bat

11

Angolan soft-furred fruit bat

Lissonyscerys angolensis (Bocage, 1898)

Bat

12

Giant leaf-nosed bat

Hipposideros cf. gigas (Wagner, 1845)

Bat

13

Noack's leaf-nosed bat

Hipposideros vitattus (Noack, 1893)

Bat

14

Hammer headed fruit bat

Hypsignathus monstrosus

Bat

15

Egyptian rousette

Rousettus aegyptiacus (E. Geoffroy, 1810)

Bat

16




Micropteropus pusilus

Bat

In comparing the list with other (previous) trips, there is a change in the species recorded. At this stage, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the species recorded lists. We intend to see the occurrence of species when we have all the lists made across the year, which can tell the movement of the species in the reserve or caves.


But where do the species go is difficult to tell because this might need to mark individuals and get them recorded somewhere else. Which is not the aim of this project.
We used the opportunity of the COP 21 to target schools to give a message on climate change. This will be given in a report that is on preparation as the activities are still ongoing.

Figure 6. Left: The team after setting up a net. Right: Exploring netting sites, a rain surprised the team and we went to stay at a cave entry.






Figure 7. Left: A specimen the Angolan soft-furred fruit bat (Lissonycteris angolensis) after identification, being released. Right: Landscape in the forest with some plant flowering.


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