Monday, December 15, 2014

Lost and Found

While our eyes can be the most useful tool when it comes to finding and identifying a hyena; collars also help us in our search for Talek West fisi (hyena) in the field. With the help of collars and tracking equipment we are able to locate hyenas by using both GPS coordinates and our tracking equipped car.

A couple of mornings ago however we ran into a bit of a dilemma. We found a collar but no hyena!

 It seems like this collar has been through a lot. The battery box has been torn to shreds along with some pieces of the strap. We found this collar a couple of meters away from one of our active den sites. It is an old VHF collar. We think that it may have belonged to either MoonPie (Talek West female) or Dublin (Talek West male). Each collar comes with its on frequency and we program that number into the receiver once the hyena is collared so that we are able to track it. I think we are going to have a bit of a hard time figuring out who this collar belonged to. Recently we have started to write the frequency on the inside of the collar which helps us identify who the collar belongs to. This collar however does not have the frequency written on it; this along with the state of the collar creates an interesting task for us here.

 A comparison between a working GPS collar and the one we found. The fancy GPS collar has put this one to shame!

We have two types of collars VHF and GPS. Most of out adult females wear VHF collars and both the natal and immigrant males are equipped with GPS collars.

Stay tuned for my next blog for more information and details on collars and how they aid us in the field. Hopefully we can figure out who this collar belonged to. My vote is for MoonPie!


Ignacious Gman said...

Do you guys have a way to figure out the frequency without the collar functioning? Like a process of elimination on what frequencies you find in the field from now on? or figuring it out from the pieces of the collar itself? I understand VHF isn't something you can gather signals from at all times so I imagine the former could take some time to make confirmation.

Hope the neck it was attached to is ok though. :S

Interesting post. Keep us informed on that neck in question!

Kenna said...

Unfortunately, collars die and hyenas disappear before we can dart and recover them. Process of elimination can get us down to a few possibilities, but most times won't be able to narrow it down to one. Our collars do have serial numbers embedded in the radio transmitting portion of the collar. When they are brand new, you can see and read that serial number easily. When they get old and dirty though, we have to wait to get that number from the company that refurbishes them for us. With how destroyed this collar is, I am not even sure they will be able to retrieve the serial number. If that is impossible, they MAY be able to determine the frequency from the crystal that they install, which determines the radio frequency.

I've never seen a collar this destroyed, so it's hard to know what useful parts are left in there.

Ignacious Gman said...

Thanks Kenna!

Good luck in finding out. :S

I suppose if you find magpie in the meantime and her collar is gone you will more than likely know what collar it was.

Would you be able to suppose it was chewed up? or did it get destroyed some other way?

sorry I'm so curious. :B

Ignacious Gman said...

*moonpie t.t

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science