NightCam Diaries: Trail Trial

By Asilia Africa News | 13 June 2018

ByTam Hoskyns-Abrahall

This first installment in our new NightCam Diaries gives you a look into the first week our night camera was set up in Ruaha National Park, close to Kwihala Camp. Keep an eye out for new updates to see what the critters of Ruaha are getting up to at night!


The Night Watch- TrailCam

Our days in the bush are packed with excitement. Lions lounge in dry river beds, elephant trumpet and charge each other through the combretum. However, night time in Ruaha holds its own entertainment. There is no, “lights out”.

Animals keep going about their business, just under the shadow of the moon or by starlight. Some creatures specialize in these dark hours to come out and search for food. As we head into the long spell of dry months, the May nights are cold and brisk. Temperatures during the nights can drop as low as 7 degrees. Crisp night air, quiet roads, sleeping humans – Ruaha keeps on.

Lorenzo and I thought long and hard as to where the best locations would be to place the night camera. Once all the cars were in camp, we headed out to find the perfect bush to attach the camera. One thing to note for anyone putting up a night camera is protection. Not yourself only, but for the device. Hyena’s are the main predator for a lone camera. Their curiosity knows no fear. Most camera-owners will protect their camera with a metal box. It must be a sturdy one! Hyenas snap bones for fun!

Tying and adjusting the camera can lead to arguments, so patience is needed. First, you need to make sure that it is tied onto the branch nice and tight, and then the test runs. The world today is obsessed with digital imagery, but now is not the time to concern yourself with that. Under night watch… you won’t find your Facebook profile picture.

Tam Hoskyns-Abrahall- Camera Woman

Lorenzo Rossi- Camera Man

To make sure we had the camera in the right position, we would set the camera on go and crawl, hop, leap frog in front of the camera to see the quality of the shot as well as the scope of the lens. Once happy with it, we set the count down, and made a runner for it to a warm tent. This setting up process is does every evening before LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

The first week is about getting to know your camera. It is a lot about trial and error, and if you are anything like me, an uneventful night can be heart breaking. The excitement of getting up in the morning to rush out and see what snaps you got… the feeling is uncanny to how I felt as a child on Christmas morning. So, the lesson here is, manage your expectations.

The frequent visitors that we got in and around the camp were the faithful duo – the Spotted Hyena and the Black Backed Jackal

We live for the weird and wonderful. Some critters we never get to see, so when we get their mug shots, excitement is shared all around!

Genets are beautiful and eloquent in all manners of speaking. Here, we managed to get the Small Spotted Genet pacing about for a tasty something. Known to eat mice and small birds, they can sometimes even tackle Black Mambas.

Mammals are not the only visitors we get on the NightCam. A Spotted Thick-Knee is one of the many nocturnal birds we see popping around. In fact we snapped this chap quite a few times in our week.


Though all the animals we managed to get on the NightCam were incredibly special, we definitely had some high sought out animals. The rear end of a Civet for one. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the photo was deleted by accident. The marvel of we week had to be the Aardwolf. Aardwolves are incredibly hard to see, shy but beautiful. They mostly feed on termites and ants. A tasty meal to want to take a long midnight stroll for!

You can read the second installment of our NightCam Diaries here.

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