Ceara is wild about conservation

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SEARCHING for leopards while steering clear of elephants proved to be an experience of a lifetime for a Langholm student this summer.

Ceara Hayton on the trail of the elusive leopard in South Africa
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Ceara Hayton on the trail of the elusive leopard in South Africa

Ceara Nicole Hayton worked in a conservation project in South Africa.

She spent three weeks on the Dinokeng reserve looking for evidence of leopards using camera traps for the big cat conservation organisation Panthera.

There have yet to be sightings of leopards in Dinokeng since the research began last year, although there is some evidence that they are around.

Ceara was also involved in bird point counts and habitat assessments to identify any effects which large herbivores such as elephants are having on the reserve.

While at the camp, the students slept in tents, cooked over open fires and were constantly aware of the dangers from elephants. At one point they were charged by a bull elephant.

The students on the expedition had daily lectures in a tent set up for that purpose. They also carried out game transects looking at mammal distributions and the use of habitat.

Ceara, 25, a zoology student at Aberdeen University, lives in John Street.

She was supported to do this research by three trusts, the Holywood, Arthur Bell and David Stevenson trusts, and was directed to these grant-funding sources by Jason Railton of the Langholm Initiative’s Building a Future for Eskdale project.

She is very grateful for the support she received to enable her to participate in this expedition.

The opportunity for Ceara to take part came through Operation Wallacea which recruits university students for short-term pieces of biological and conservation management research in remote locations of the world.

Her final week of the expedition was spent in Sodwana Bay where she was able to complete her PADI open water scuba diving course.

Ceara is returning to university shortly but is looking forward to a placement in Hong Kong from January to June 2018.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:22PM
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