Busy traffic arteries cut through the Sonian Forest and fragment the forest into isolated patches: the Brussels Ring Road, the E411, the railway between Brussels and Luxembourg, the Terhulpsesteenweg, the Duboislaan, the Tervuursesteenweg… They all prevent the forest inhabitants from travelling between the different areas. About fifty animals are killed each yearby the busy traffic on the roads through the forest in the forest. This was revealed by monitoring that took place in the context of the Dood doet Leven project.
The Life+OZON project (= Defragmentation of Sonian Forest) aimed to reconnect these ecological hotspots. To that end, more than ten wildlife crossings were constructed during the years 2013-2018. The most spectacular is no doubt the wildlife bridge between Groenendaal and Waterloo, which was completed in the spring of 2018.
On several places the use of wildlife crossings, wildlife tunnels, wildlife pipes and tree bridges is monitored using camera traps. From the start some of the project partners used Agouti as a platform to store their images. Within the framework of Catrein, a short workshop was organized recently discussing camera settings and the use of Agouti. All project partners now will use Agouti to store and annotate their images - allowing also a standardised data analysis by Catrein project partners such as INBO.
Wild boar in nature areas south of Leuven (Belgium)
In the region south of Leuven wild boar reappeared a decade ago. This new situation brings new challenges as far as concerns wild boar management in public forests (meerdaalwoud) and nature areas (Dijlevallie) in the region. However at the moment the current distribution of wild boar in the region is not known. Therefore 30 Catrein-cameras are currently deployed in the region to monitor the current wild boar distribution. The cameras are randomly distributed in the region and each three weeks the positions of the cameras are changed. The project only started in march 2018. First results will be available end of 2018.
PhD project : Wild boar in the National Park Hoge Kempen
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is an opportunistic omnivorous ungulate native to the Eurasian continent and introduced as game species in other parts of the world. In Flanders, the species went virtually extinct several decades ago but was observed again in 2006 and is expanding rapidly ever since. National Park Hoge Kempen (https://www.nationaalparkhogekempen.be/nl), the only national park in Belgium and a typical urban protected area, is one of the places where wild boar is observed frequently. The return of wild boar poses a striking duality inherent to the scarce nature in Flanders. Having a charismatic umbrella species with booming population densities can be considered a conservation success. However, wild boar can have serious ecological, economic as well as a socio-cultural impacts through interactions with rare species, damage to crops and gardens, car collisions, disease transmissions and the imposition of fear. The small size of NPHK (+/- 50km2) and its position in a very urbanised surrounding results in nature and wildlife literally being in people’s backyard. This increases the chance of negative encounters substantially. Missing knowledge on several ecological mechanisms results in uncertainties when elaborating management strategies for wild boar and therefore in an inability to cope with these impacts in a sustainable way. In this research project we primarily study the space use of wild boar in relation to human activities and ecological conditions. To do this we apply a standardised, randomised deployment of camera traps. Secondly, this study aims at contributing to methodological improvements of camera trap studies by comparing different spatial distribution models to analyse the same research question. Thirdly, it aims at providing objective data input for a locally adapted and integrated wild boar management, ultimately contributing to a more efficient sharing of valuable green space and thus to human-wildlife coexistence