The adventure begins — PJ

I am currently in the Northern Cape with bat-eared foxes for friends. This all started in my Honours year (at the University of Pretoria), when I saw the opportunity to work on canines, my lifelong dream. I saw a flyer promoting a Masters Degree for working on bat-eared foxes and I was like, I am game, let’s to it. Next thing I know I arrived in the Northern Cape of South Africa surrounded by bat-eared foxes that don’t want to be my friends. In the beginning, I panicked a bit… After searching for the foxes for five nights, I decided to play the waiting game. So, one night, I waited near a favourite spot for my so-called friends. Eventually some got curious enough to see what I was all about and closer and closer they got till eventually I had to smile and say, this could actually work. A few nights later I had a feeding station going to let them get used to me and allow me to call them to come to me and get a reward for their efforts. These feeding stations were probably the most fun I have had with these animals, just observing them and how they interact was like watching a play from the front row seat. Some even had the audacity to growl at me a couple of meters away – didn’t they realize I’m four times their size? So after two months of waiting and following and waiting again, I had enough individuals that I could identify them individually, and thus determine what research I can do on them. For the time being, I can probably determine how smart these guys are. So I conjured up a puzzle-box, which even the reserve manager’s dogs are struggling to open. The foxes will have to pull a string or push a lever to get to the tasty, tasty raisins inside. So, my job now is to stop the feeding and start the testing. I’m crossing my fingers, trusting that my new friends are smarter than the average curious dog.

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