Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The mixed success of our new pit-fall traps!

During this expedition, the forest team spent an afternoon a few weeks back digging into the coral rocks of the forest ground to place a pit-fall trap. This involved a lot of hard work and determination, in setting 3 large buckets into the ground and creating a pathway of canvas leading into them. The theory is simple - little creatures will hit the barrier and follow the path, and fall into the bucket. The aim of this new trap would be to see what small reptiles and even mammals we have potentially unknown to us and definitely un-photographed in Shimoni forest.

In the first couple of weeks we kept checking the trap daily, to find only an array of ants, two confused beetles, a tiny scorpion, a gigantic grasshopper and a dead frog. Slightly disheartened, we made some minor repairs and adjustments to the trap and continued to check it daily.

-- Insects and bugs trapped in the pit-fall trap --

After a few more days’ disappointment, we found a small frog crouched at the bottom of a bucket...

Success at last! My group went to check the trap early one morning last week and we were amazed to find a tiny shrew in one of the buckets! Immediately we emptied out our Tupperware of lunch out and transferred the little guy into it for measuring and photographs. We took this data back to base, and managed to identify the shrew as a White Toothed Shrew! Unfortunately, there are more than 100 species of White Toothed Shrew so we can’t be certain exactly what he was – but knowing our traps are working is a fantastic development for the forest research.

-- Our captive white-toothed shrew measured, photographed and released --

We were all thrilled with the triumph of our pit-fall traps! Keep checking for future antics!