Friday, September 26, 2014

Den Woes... Things are looking up!

We found the North den!! About six weeks ago I posted a blog about all the Serena dens (August 11th).

At the time of my last post, our North clan had been denning in a cave. Really cool but really hard to get to (as in impossible!)! A couple of weeks ago we noticed the GPS points for one of our collared moms were way out in the marsh, almost at the border of the territory. (We download GPS points from our collared hyenas each day.) We went to investigate and found that this mom plus all the other North moms had moved their cubs to a new den. YES!!!

The new den presents a set of new and exciting challenges! The marsh part… The den is in an area that we cannot get to when it rains. After it rains, it can take a few days to dry out. There are also lots of holes, so it is not a great place to be driving when it is dark, unless you want to get stuck!

But, the most pressing challenge is that we don’t know the cubs! We need to be able to id them in order to get good data, but we have not seen them since late June. Trying to match pictures from then and now is difficult. Most of the cubs were still black then or were just getting their spots. However, we have managed to pick out three cubs: Kath (Kathleen Hanna), Rocket (Rocket Scientist), and Mim (Man in the Mirror). We still have two mystery cubs! These two are probably Deni (Dennis the Menace), Remi (Remington), or Jett (Joan Jett). Deni, Remi, and Jett were still black cubs when we last saw them so we don’t have any pictures of them. All three are from different moms, so we will have to watch who these mystery cubs nurse from to figure out who they are.

To begin sorting out the cubs, we tried to get a picture of each side of every cub. The goal of this was to be able to tell the cubs apart even if we hadn’t been able to match them to their official names yet. This method helped us sort out Kath, Rocket, and Mim. Now, taking pictures of both sides of the same cub is way harder than it may sound! The cubs just want to play, and they are constantly bouncing around and going in and out of tall grass. It is too bad that we cannot convince them to stand on a mound and stand still so that we can get a picture of one side and then the other! We would give them a lot if they were willing to do this!

This is what most of my pictures look like... Sigh!

Also since June, the cubs have grown and gotten fluffy which makes it harder to see their spots and match the photos.

For example, this is Kath in June:
This is Kath soon after we found the den.
To id him, we matched the three spots that are in a curve on his hindquarter’s above a larger dot and the curve of dots on his side.

Now that we know three of the cubs I am really excited to figure out the two mystery cubs. This will probably take some time, so for now I am just enjoying having a den again! 

1 comment:

dee said...

Thanks Maggie great post. The two photos of Kath say it all about the difficulties of cub id's.

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