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Lajuma is a field research station, founded by the late Dr Ian Gaigher and has been operational on the property since 2000, substantially developing in size and credibility over the last decade and linked to numerous international and South African universities (particularly the local University of Venda) and conservation organisations. Lajuma employs professional staff, with extensive local knowledge of the property and region, to oversee the research programme, property and facilities, as well as support staff.

Both Galagidae species Otolemur crassicaudatus and Galago moholi are only found in sympatry in South Africa in the Lajuma RC. While prior research has offered valuable insights into sociability and habitat preferences in various primate species, a critical gap remains in the literature on O. crassicaudatus and G. moholi spatio-temporal use, sociality. and ecology. 

                                                                            More than 10 years of                                                                           longitudinal data collection has                                                           been processed on O. crassicaudatus.                                                   Studying this little-known species and its                                         interaction with the other Galagidae species found in                      the reserve G. moholi. Both species are occuring in acacia           woodland regions of Southern Africa, which makes Lajuma the              perfect home for them. Since 2013, a long-term study has focused          on the Lajuma population of O. crassicaudatus, studying their                  demography, their ecology, ontogeny and morphology. Lajuma              and its research area is home to more than 120+ individuals. 

Samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis) have been studied for their behavior and ecology at the Lajuma Research         Centre over the past 20 years. The subspecies, Cercopithecus                 albogularis schwarzi, is considered endangered on the                     Regional Mammal Red List of South Africa, Lesotho, and                   Swaziland. It is found in isolation throughout the                                  Soutpansberg mountain range. Extensive research on the               samango monkeys at Lajuma has already been carried out,            looking into a variety of ecological and behavioral factors.                  The high-canopy, evergreen indigenous forests of the                      Afromontane/mistbelt, escarp, and coastal belt are home               to samango monkeys. As a result of land being converted                for agriculture and urbanization, South Africa's forest                            habitats have recently and quickly fragmented, limiting                      samango monkeys to isolated or semi-isolated forest                        remnants with little to no connectivity between                                    patches. While they prefer to feed in native forests,                              they will occasionally use  habitats that have been                              altered by humans, such as acacia woodland,                                      forest thickets, and so on. Samangos are often                                      reluctant to go into open land and are thought to                                be  poor dispersers. As a result, isolated                                                  populations of samango face the possibility of                                     local extinction.

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Our permanent camera grid allows the Lajuma RC to conduct extensive research on the population found in the area. We are notably looking at the number of individuals present in the population, their sex-ratio, their activity patterns and abiotic and biotic preferences, including their relationship with other species found in the reserve. Predators induce trophic cascades and are indeed essential for ecosystem structure, functionality, stability, and resilience, and their thorough understanding and integration into conservation strategies are therefore critical.

A total of 20 camera trap stations are spread over the Lajuma RC. The study site presents a high diversity of habitats, including woody grasslands, mountain bush veld, mist belt forest, and riverine forest, and their related floral diversity is spread along an 8 km-long permanent river, considered a permanent resource for many species in the reserve. Those camera traps are notably used to monitor populations of bushbucks, leopard density and brown hyenas and allows the Lajuma RC to recover even more data and observations on various species including Aardvark, Porcupine, Caracal, African civet and cape clawless otters and all of our 80+ mammals species.

The Lajuma RC provides opportunities to spot                   numerous beautiful and rare species of bird,                   including the purple crested turaco, narina trogon,         cape vultures, Violet-backed starling, African fish             eagle, crested guineafowl and 5 owl species.                  The Lajuma RC is home to over 215+ birds                         species, which makes it a perfect place for bird              research.

Butterfly traps have been set up in the
Lajuma RC across many habitats to get a
better understanding of Melanitis leda’s polymorphism. To detect and understand patterns in the distribution of adult color patterns, we collect individuals as specimen to compare them to the multiple morph variants within the same species in different habitats and seasons. Lajuma RC is also home to more than 116 species of butterflies. 

The Soutpansberg reptile community clearly shows effects of isolation. The mistbelt and the grassland on the summits, which both withstood climatic oscillations in the past, harbour the majority of species and most of the endemic taxa in particular.  For the reptile community, these sites therefore have significant ecological value. There are unique characteristics in this area as a result of the rocky ecosystems and the mountain's cooler environment. Numerous species of Soutpansberg endemics have adapted to mesic conditions, and the majority of them live rupicolous lives. Platysaurus relictus, Bradypodion transvaalense, Amblyodipsas microphthalma nigra, and Prosymna stuhlmannii are among the various species of reptiles that can be found locally.

The Lajuma RC is home to more than 2,500 plant species and 600 tree species. They cover a variety of habitats including woody grasslands, mountain bush veld, mist belt forest, and riverine forest, and their related floral diversity. Fig trees and acacia trees are monitored at the Lajuma RC, as they provide a primary food ressource for many species.

Our weather station displays many abiotic factors and weather determinants (precipitation, humidity, temperature...).  Data is recorded every 30 minutes and is available to researchers and students to be included in their research. 

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