Specialising in wildlife surveys
“Any programme for the management and conservation of large African mammals will require, at some point, information on the number of animals.”
– Mike Norton-Griffths (1978)
The planning of reserves, game ranches or general protected areas often rely on information on the numbers and distribution of selected wildlife species. Game off-takes through game capture and relocations, hunting or culling require reliable numerical data of targeted wildlife species. Specific wildlife management needs sometimes require specific survey or counting methodologies, or the adaption of common counting methodologies.
Game counts can be ground-based on foot or by vehicle, and aerial counts can be conducted with a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. A count can be an attempted total count (a complete count), or could involve a sample count with observers and the application of proven counting methodologies. Photography can be used to assist with the counting of larger groups of animals beyond the capabilities of observers to count or estimate numbers accurately. An aerial count can also primarily be done with vertical photography or videography instead of merely relying on observers to count animals. The possible application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”), in collaboration with other interest groups, for the counting of wildlife is being investigated.
Wildlife surveys or game counts are conducted first and foremost to obtain estimates of the abundance of targeted wildlife species. Such surveys can also collect important data on relative distribution of wildlife species in relation to habitat or landscape types, and resources such as surface water distribution. Other wildlife surveys, on the other hand, could aim primarily to obtain basic inventories of species present in selected areas.