Ok, in less than a week our Forest Cobra will be undergoing surgery under the steady hand of Suzanne to have his telemtry unit fitted. A big thank you to the Invicta Arachnid Club from the UK for their donation towards this.
We are testing a new release site which will allow us to better observe the Forest Cobras without disturbing them, after surgery all the snakes will be monitored and left to recuperate for a length of time to ensure that there are no unexpected complications from the surgery.
Well, the day has finally come where we say goodbye to Gizmo.
Home Sweet Home
In case you missed it, Gizmo was one of the original snakes in our telemetry research project. Unfortunately Gizmo was just a little too small and did not react well to the telemetry unit after the Surgery. There was only one thing to do, let Gizmo go without the transmitter. So back into surgery a few days later, the transmitter was removed and Gizmo returned with us to convalesce.
Gizmo has been getting stronger by the day and has even managed to put on enough weight to shed! So we thought it high time we let him go once more in the bush.
Gizmo tentatively looks round
At first he seemed reluctant to leave his Hluhluwe hotel (namely the garage atUmkhumbi Lodge but then instinct got the better of him and he was off.
After a brief stop in the water – which judging by the speed he left it was cold!! – he ducked into the long grasses to hide from the sun.
Gizmo the forest Cobra gives us one last smile before slithering away
In the short duration of our telemetry project so far, we have discovered that all three snakes seem to have taken up residence in specific areas of the bush in which they were released. Using this knowledge, we have set up motion activated nightvision cameras, these cameras were supplied to us by Brickhouse Security.
Trying to pre-empt the next exploration direction, we left the camera out for a few days in the hope that Vader the forest cobra would saunter past. As we approached the camera trap, who did we see but Vader! Thankfully our video camera has a long zoom so we could film Vader without getting too close.
Actual footage from the motion cameras will be coming soon!
It would appear that Chelsea has indeed found herself a little underground home.
Two days in a row now we have spotted her sunbathing and then – when she realises we want a photograph – gets camera shy and hightails it into a nearby termite mound.
Now, I realise the pictures aren’t very good, but she is much quicker than my lens (or me!). She is disappearing into a termite mound behind the branches dead centre of the shots. Practice makes perfect, so better shots coming soon.
Yesterdays sighting revealed a nice bump which was not there today, we can therefore safely assume that she is settling in well and making herself right at home by decimating the mouse population. Which I am sure the nearby Pineapple farmers will be most appreciative of!
It has been decided among the crew that Gizmo should be rereleased. However we have decided this time to release him without the transmitter. He is just a little too small and whilst he is doing fine in captivity with the transmitter in place we have our doubts about how well he will be able to cope after release. So, we have made the decision to pop him once more into the care of Susanne (our project veterinarian) and then monitor his convalescence before releasing him once more into the wild. Free to remain unbothered by humans pestering him when he is soaking up the midday sun.
So, Donald Schultz rocks in here late last night, and after an early night wakes up with all the energy of a kid on Cream Soda.
He can’t wait to get filming for our Forest Cobra telemetry project.
Using telemetry units no bigger than my finger, we are going to track the movements of a few Forest Cobra as they go about their business. The units have a range of 10km, and each day we will travel to find one particular Cobra and record his location. The rest of the Forest Cobras will be left undisturbed and follow them using GPS to get a true representation of their movements without unnecessary human interruption.
All the Forest Cobras are over 2m in length and to give them the maximum chance of survival will be de-wormed, screened and health checked before release.