Field Diary – Joining WWCT and The Leopard Project
I heard about WWCT and The Leopard Project through a friend, who had already enrolled himself with them and was all set to start work on the Wilpattu study site from August. I immediately googled about the WWCT and their Leopard Project and managed to find Ms. Anjali Watson ‘s contact details. To be honest it was quite a task to get in touch with her at the time, as she was in the field, but finally she had the time to read up on my resume and call me up for an interview.
On meeting Ms. Anjali she explained to me what and how exactly they work, and how we would contribute as volunteers and what our role would be. All fine and dusted and we were to begin work coming August, which was the 2nd round of Camera Trapping in Wilpattu.
So I started off in August when I joined Ms. Anjali and Dr. Andrew Kittle for my first time in the field when they were just beginning the second round of camera trapping. We were inside the park for 3 days, first taking off the cameras from the previous round, then setting them up again for the second.
At first I thought setting up camera traps would be an easy task and wouldn't really require much effort. When you actually do start setting up one though, is when you realize it's a completely different process. Setting a camera involves first finding the best location to set it up, so as to get the best chance of ‘catching’ a leopard, while also making sure it's not too visible to the public. Then there's a process of mimicking the leopard walk and checking if everything is alright.
That aside over the course of the three months that I was part of the WWCT team and the project, I learnt and experienced an immense amount of things, things I might have never experienced if not for this project.
Setting up camera traps being one skill, also other things like measuring and analyzing pug marks, collecting scat, analyzing scrapes and scent marks ( I actually touched a part of the soil to smell the urine, and that is one strong scent I'll never forget !)
I was also able to gather a lot of information about how things work in the field, as well as what happens post data collection. I was able to learn from Dr. Andrew how data is analyzed, presented and published and even the difficulties and hardships when it comes to this kind of work.
Long story short, being part of The Leopard Project and the WWCT has been an amazing experience so far, and I hope to continue working with them on future projects.