Have you ever thought about, what the monitoring of wild animals looks like? This winter my brother and I participated in the monitoring of the wild lynxes and wolves in the Mala Fatra National park. From the very beginning it looked like a great idea, how to spend a winter day in the mountains, when we found out, the Administration of National park is looking for volunteers, who would like to help. So we went ahead, registered ourselves, got the instructions about where and when all volunteers meet and we got the route that we were supposed to take.
As these animals are really timid, the most important thing about monitoring is looking for the footprints of the animals. If animal tracks are identified, you are obliged to write down the GPS coordinates of the place, to mark the place of finding on the map and to take a photo of the footprints with a tape measure alongside them. The participants have to walk the route that were assigned to and have to look for the footprints. Afterwards all the information has to be collected and sent to the organiser, so they can evaluate the results of the monitoring. Based on the monitoring we can learn more about the animal paths, about their habits or how many animals live in particular area.
At the time of monitoring, there was not enough snow in the lower altitude areas, what made the tracking quite difficult. On our route we found 2 places with suspicious footprints. We believed it was lynx, but we had to wait until one of the rangers of the National park confirmed, that we really found lynx´s footprints. We didn´t find any wolf´s footprints.
All together more than 200 km of paths were mapped. Based on the monitoring we know, that at least 3 lynxes and 4 wolf packs live in the National park Mala Fatra. It was a great experience and I´m already looking forward to summer monitoring of bears.