Telemetry project overview – Project Management
Start up project July – December 2011
As a pilot project we hope to achieve a few key objectives to give us insight into the behaviour and habitat preference of the Forest Cobra (Naja melanoleuca) the data gathered and knowledge gained over the next 6 months will give us a strong base to launch a far more in depth project as soon as all the data has been processed.
As a release site we have chosen a substantial piece of land considered to be prime habitat for the Forest Cobra and hope to achieve the following objectives:
Will the snakes stay in the “prime habitat” or will the move on to a.) Agriculture land surrounding the site or b.) seek out areas closer to human habitation not far from the release site. Possible examples of why they would move could be for various reasons such as better source of food, potentially better shelter, perhaps venturing further a field searching for a mate.
Regular check ups on the animals with the telemetry units will provide us with invaluable information. This will include data such as, are the animals nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular etc. Do they have a preference to vegetation type, specific biomes within the area. Preferred structures for residing in i.e. termite mounds etc. Temperature preferences. Possible data on prey types. Distances travelled foraging, basking times, proximity to water courses by choice. We hope to see whether these animals are predominantly arboreal or terrestrial.
As part of the pilot project we have fitted telemetry units to two Black Mambas. Firstly they are larger snakes so we could see how the animals would cope with the units surgically inserted. These animals should cover greater distances than the Forest Cobras so should prove invaluable for testing the radio equipment. Although work has been done on these animals in the past the data we record should be valuable for the same reasons stated above.
Currently we have 2 volunteers going out daily (weather dependant) to track the animals. The objective is to get a visual on each animal if possible without disturbing them and record the following data:
Actual ambient temperature
Information of what the snakes are doing like “mamba -001 has taken up residence in termite mound and is sunning herself in the afternoons from 15h00 to 17h00.” will be recorded as behavioural data.