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.
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!’