GEORGE NEWS - The theft of three cameras in the Garden Route Botanical Garden last week put an abrupt end to a research and educational project of the Landmark Foundation that monitored the movement of wild animals.
"The project was run by school kids and they are totally devastated," said Monica Vaccaro, education programme chief at the foundation.
According to Vaccaro it required brute force to get through the thick metal casings of the cameras. It is suspected that the theft happened at the beginning of the week. Vaccaro was called out by the Botanical Garden staff on Wednesday morning, 3 July, after the theft was noticed. One camera that broke in the process was left behind, but its SD card had been removed.
"We do not know if it was simply malicious or if it was people who were caught on camera doing something they should not have."
The cameras were set up a year ago and the group was able to compile a comprehensive list of animals that visit the gardens. With the cameras they could monitor whether the numbers increase or decrease.
"It helped us to understand how close animals get to us in the buffer zone. Bush pig, water mongooses, leopard tortoises, porcupines, vervet monkeys and many more have been recorded. The cameras were not insured as the Landmark Foundation does not have the funds for insurance."
Vaccaro said the Landmark Foundation posts cameras all over the country and many also close to towns like here in George, but she is not aware of similar incidents elsewhere. Sponsorship for new cameras will enable the project to resume. "If anyone could manage to sponsor us, we can try to secure the cameras a bit better. They were Bushnell cameras and had motion-centred night vision."
The cameras were mounted along animal paths, which are sometimes used by humans.
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