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From Black Footed Cats and Elephants to Beetles: The Bateleurs' Aerial Support in Conservation Efforts

Understandably, our pilots, supporters, and followers are drawn to stories about popular species such as the relocation of wild dogs, lions, and cheetahs, and the de-horning of rhinos. This focus often diverts attention from smaller creatures, such as Black Footed Cats, some of which are significantly rarer and more endangered than those making headlines.

We respect and aim to assist those conservationists who work with these lesser-known but equally important creatures in our world.

In this context, The Bateleurs were approached by Michelle Swanepoel from the Black-Footed Cat Working Group (BFCWG). They sought our support for an aerial advantage - specifically, the deployment of airborne telemetry tracking, as all ground-based efforts had proven unsuccessful. The BFCWG had lost the signal of a collared individual, and a complete dataset was crucial for understanding territorial range, migratory behaviour, and diurnal versus nocturnal activity.

The Bateleurs were quick to approve this application, and we were fortunate to have a local Bateleurs pilot with the perfect aircraft. Andrew Conroy volunteered his Zenair CH701, a true 4X4 of the African skies. Like all dedicated Bat's pilots, Andrew went above and beyond, immersing himself in the mission, undertaking additional flights, and joining forces with Michelle in their determined pursuit of a result.

Black Footed  Cat and the Bateleurs Mission

WTF being fitted with the aerial

Despite our best efforts, we don't always have success in our missions. This is part of the territory, especially when dealing with nature, which often seems to have a will of its own. The following message from our conservationist applicant encapsulates this sentiment.

“Hi Steve, apologies for the delayed response. Unfortunately, we couldn’t detect his signal.
I want to extend my sincere gratitude to you and The Bateleurs for making this mission possible, and for your invaluable time, patience, and willingness to undertake the flight despite the low probability of finding him, next time we will arrange a flight the moment they start going out of range and make sure to keep tracking them weekly by getting into contact with the farmers and getting access to their properties to record the invaluable data it would provide.
Andrew, a huge thank you for your hospitality, kindness, and patience, and for going above and beyond in your efforts for this mission! We're incredibly grateful for your assistance, and for ensuring our safe return on both flights with your exceptional piloting skills!
May you both have a lovely evening!” 


Black Footed  Cat and the Bateleurs Mission - area flown

Route flown on the tracking mission

In conclusion, we have received requests to assist in the search for a species of Cape Mountain shrew. The aim is to confirm (a) their existence and (b) their territorial range. Additionally, another study is being conducted on a species of beetle that dwells in the mountains. This study can only be conducted with the help of Bateleurs helicopter volunteers and dogs trained to detect the beetle.

We find solace in the fact that The Bateleurs will provide aerial support for any qualifying conservation application, regardless of the species involved, from elephants to beetles.

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