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BEGGING FOR BUNNIES

Esther Matthew, Drylands Conservation Programme Specialist Field Officer, estherm@ewt.org.za

With Easter coming up, we know you will be on the hunt for the Easter bunny, and if you see him or anyone resembling him, we want proof! The EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme is trying to gather more information on all the South African lagomorph species (that’s rabbits and hares!). We are specifically looking at their distributions within the Northern, Western, and Eastern Cape provinces and the potential overlap of different species’ distributions in these areas. Have you seen one of our furry friends? We are looking for photos that you have taken or any camera trap images of rabbits and hares in South Africa. Become a citizen scientist by contributing your images to the study of rabbits and hares in the country. We will happily accept any images, with or without species identification, as long as it is submitted with a location, preferably a GPS point.

In the process, of course, we hope to get a few photos of our elusive Riverine Rabbits in areas where we don’t have recent records. Riverine Rabbits are Critically Endangered and very difficult to find, and we encourage the public to assist us in gathering more information on the distribution of this mysterious species. However, please note, we do not, under any circumstances, encourage the handling or capturing of any wild rabbit or hares. Please send all of your bunny photos and locations to estherm@ewt.org.za. The locations you submit will not be made available to the public to prevent poaching, but the locations will add value to datasets for research and the conservation of the species. We will use the images to identify the species and contribute to updating the distribution maps!

This initiative is sponsored by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Rand Merchant Bank.