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Wildlife surveys

There are many ways to count wildlife and estimate their numbers. The most commonly used methods are fixed route ground counts using “distance” estimates, counting at waterholes in the dry season, doing spoor counts, and counting from an aircraft, either a fixed-wing using survey strips or a helicopter counting blocks. For some species – those with unique markings such as zebras and spotted cats – a photographic survey approach works well, making use of camera traps at water points and field photos.

The selection of a method depends on the habitat, species involved, size of area and cost. None of these methods give absolute numbers; they all provide estimates that are more-or-less accurate. Their real value comes from ongoing monitoring to determine trends over time. Using the above methods, the main objectives of doing wildlife surveys are threefold:

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wildlife surveys

A new, innovative and cost-effective approach

Bushskies Aviation, a young and dynamic Namibian company, has recently introduced a new concept in wildlife surveys: Aerial photography. The aircraft is equipped with high resolution cameras that photograph the terrain below the aircraft in strips about 500 m wide and with a resolution of less than 5 cm. This means that all wildlife can be identified to species level.

For farm-size areas of land, we recommend that 100% coverage is photographed. For very large areas, lesser coverage can be photographed and wildlife numbers calculated using statistical methods (e.g. for the Greater Fish River Canyon Landscape of about 1 million ha and the Iona National Park in Angola of about 1.5 million ha, an average photographic coverage of 40% was flown). There are many advantages to the wildlife aerial photographic survey method, including:

Despite all these advantages, the wildlife aerial photographic survey method is very cost effective, is underpinned by up-to-date science, and we work with each client individually to make sure that all needs are fully met.