Science - July 1, 2020

‘I was unable to check my camera traps’

Coretta Jongeling

Much of Wageningen science is conducted abroad, so the corona outbreak forced many researchers to face the choice: should I stay or should I go? We spoke to one PhD candidate that stayed, one that returned, and one that chose to travel despite the outbreak. How do you research during a pandemic? Today, part 2: Michelle Kral, Botswana.

©Michelle Kral, Cheetah Conservation Botswana

Michelle Kral, PhD student of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

‘I am located in a small safari village called Maun and am coordinating the research at the Cheetah Conservation Botswana. I work in the Kalahari desert, where there is much livestock farming, but also frequent incidents of conflict between humans and predators. With this project, we hope to learn more about the cheetah’s behaviour, to enable a better cohabitation between humans and animals. 

The Kalahari desert is very remote and sparsely populated, so it was one of the last places on Earth to report an infection. There was a lockdown in effect in Botswana from 4 April to 21 May. No-one was allowed outdoors, so I could not check my camera traps. I focussed on literature research and planning research for next year. Following seven weeks of staying indoors, I finally started again two weeks ago. Everything seems fairly normal here, although a face-mask is compulsory, as are temperature checks upon entering shops or office buildings.  

A face-mask is compulsory, as are temperature checks upon entering shops or office buildings
Michelle Kral, PhD Wildlife Ecology

Much of my research is carried out on private properties, on large cattle farms and private game ranches. Now that the lockdown is over, people are pleased to have me return to do research for them. The next three months, I hope to ‘catch’ many cheetahs and predators in my camera traps!’

Read part 1 here:

Re:actions 1

  • Elmar Veenendaal

    Maun a small safari village ... Hmmm. Maun is larger than Wageningen. It has about the same number of supermarkets but, more hotels and guesthouses. It also has an international Airport, a modern Hospital, and a large research institute of the University of Botswanana (just to name a few of its assets). Luckily the Governement of Botswana has managed to prevent Covid-19 with strict lock-down measures. Currently opening up of the tourist industry (without risking introduction of the virus) is being discussed. I would advise anyone to, as soon as the possibility opens up, go and visit Maun," the gateway to the Okavango Delta"


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  • Elmar Veenendaal

    Maun een klein safari dorpje... Hmmm. Maun is groter dan Wageningen (dank Roy) Het heeft ongeveer even veel supermarkten, meer hotels en guest houses dan Wageningen, een internationaal vliegveld en modern ziekenhuis en een redelijk groot Research institute van de Universiteit van Botswana (om maar wat te noemen). De Kalahari woestijn is trouwens een droge savanne, niet echt een woestijn. Gelukkig heeft de Overheid met strikte maatregelen de corona besmettingen tot nu to binnen de perken weten te houden. Er wordt nu overlegd hoe het internationaal tourisme weer op gang gebracht kan worden zonder risico's. Ik zou iedereen willen aanraden zo gauw het mogelijk is, er eens op vakantie te gaan naar Maun. "the gateway to the Okavango Delta"

    • fret

      a fast check on google maps shows that Maun covers the same area as Wageningen, Ede, Renkum and the forest between these these towns... in 2011 it had almost 1.5 more inhabitants compared to Wageningen in 2017