Viktor Neštický

Data collection in Senegal


My master thesis was focused on calf sex ratio of capritve eland populations, including the only semi-captive population of Western Derby elands located in 2 wildlife reserves in Senegal. Thanks to the financial support provided by mobility I was able to travel to the only place where my data collection was possible. I arrived accompanied by my colleague to the capital of Senegal, Dakar, from where we travelled to the first wildlife reserve keeping Western Derby elands called Bandia. Directly on the arrival we were welcomed by very kind local guides and drivers, as well as by wildlife itself. I was accomodated in huge tent with no fences between me and wild inhabitants of the reserve. Therefore it wasn’t nothing unusual being accompanied by monkeys and birds during breakfast, which was always a great start to a new day. Our work was based on new-born calfs identification and photo documentation of all individuals we were able to find. As the reserve is huge itself, everyday we were challenged to find our focus species, which could easily mean searching for more than an hour to finally encounter any elands. But the time flies when you are surrounded by wildlife, including white rhinos, giraffes, zebras and many others iconic african fauna species.

The data collection was great itself as we got really close to Western Derby elands and we were able to observe them for many hours and started to individually recognize every animal. It was a challenge to correctly identify them and we were getting better at this everyday.

As we were quite succesfull and found all new calves and their mothers within shorter period as we thought it would take us, we managed to get to the second wildlife reserve, Fathala, located on the border with Gambia. It was a surprise that habitat is totally diferent to Bandia, much denser and harder accesible, which made our search for elands a real adventure. Sometimes it seemed like they are playing hide and seek with us and we could not find them for an entire day. But that only proved us how great are Western Derby elands adapted local conditions and ensured us that we were really lucky to see this magnificent antelope on our own eyes.

All data collected during my stay in Senegal were used for my diploma thesis, which had brought interesting new information on given topic.

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