Another close call over the weekend, but still no pygmy hippo. I wish they could understand it’s for their own good! It’s become worryingly quiet over the last couple of days and frustration levels amongst the team are growing. What are we doing wrong? It started so well, but we still haven’t managed to catch one and there’s been no fresh signs at all in the last day or so. It’s cutting it close to the wire, but there’s still 10 days left and there’s still time.
It’s not just us who are disappointed – it’s the local community members too. They’ve started to come up with their own theories about what’s going wrong. They believe that other forces should help so they’ve started with their traditional rituals to see if that works. There’s even medicine men from different villages competing to see who can help us catch a hippo first. We’ve already tried scattering magic powder in and on top of the traps, but nothing seems to be helping.
On a positive note, we’re starting to look at other work we might be able to do whilst we’re waiting for the hippos. We’re starting to set some white-breasted guineafowl traps so we can track them using radio telemetry. We’ve got two former hunters on the team so we’ve got a good chance of catching some guineafowl even if we can’t catch a hippo!
Things are not looking good. We’re fast running out of time and I haven’t even managed to see a pygmy hippo let alone caught one. We’re trying to come up with different ways of catching a hippo since the traps don’t seem to be working. We don’t think it’s the traps themselves, but the fact the hippos haven’t even been in the area for the last couple of days.
We’ve come up with the possibility of darting a hippo, though we’ll have to actually see one to manage that. This isn’t the ideal solution because there’s the danger that the hippo could run into the river after it’s been darted, then go under due to the anaesthesia and drown so we’re going to have to be really careful.
The other problem is that it’s rather tricky to dart a hippo from 10m away through thick undergrowth. Luckily, Michele has proven herself to be a brilliant markswoman. She could definitely be an FBI agent or something similar if she wasn’t a vet.
We’ve also set up some camera traps around the old mining pit to see whether the hippos are still using it. This could provide the perfect spot for darting because we could block the trails back to the river to stop the hippo making it to the water before the anaesthesia takes effect.
So despite our bad luck so far, there’s still hope. And we’ve managed to catch our first guineafowl – a crested one, not a white-breasted as we’d hoped, but it’ll still give us chance to work on our radio telemetry skills and provide us with some useful data.