MISSION 23 of 2010
Name of Mission: Crocodile Count 05 of 2010 – Lake Sibaya
Date of Mission: 24th June 2010
Aircraft used: Cobra – Light Sport Aircraft
Beneficiary: Xander Combrink
Pilot: Peter Vosloo
Report from the beneficiary: Xander Combrink
Objective of the Flights:
As part of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife crocodile monitoring programme, we conducted an aerial survey to count crocodiles at Lake Sibaya. This population has gradually decreased since 1970.
We counted a total of 22 crocodiles at Lake Sibaya, consisting of four juveniles (<1.2m), seven sub-adults (1.2m – 2.5m) and 11 adults (>2.5m). During 2008 and 2009 seven crocodiles were counted, and the 2009 count can be considered a very good count as it was conducted under optimal conditions in winter, i.e. no wind and cloud cover as well as cool water temperature.It is unlikely that crocodiles immigrated from other waterbodies, given the relative long distance to the closest freshwater, i.e. Lake Mgobozeleni, approximately 12km to the south. The more likely explanation is that a number of crocodiles were missed during the 2009 survey, although they were present in the lake. Although the Bushbaby airplane which was used for the 2009 count can fly relatively slow, the Microlight Trike used during the 2010 survey, can fly even slower and has superior downward visibility.
The result of the survey confirms the advantage of using Microlight aircraft for crocodile aerial surveys.