New site to gather camera trap wildlife footage

Posted by Anita Froneman on 19 December 2019

Camera traps (cameras that take pictures when it detects movement) is of infinite value to researchers. However, they might take thousands of images and of course also take many images of creatures other than the one being studied. The result is that researchers often have large archives of animals on candid camera that aren’t being used.

Now, a new website will be a platform for any and all such images to be uploaded and used for further study.

‘There are countless hard drives around the world full of very, very useful data just sitting there, unused,’ said Margaret Kinnaird, a wildlife practice leader at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to Sciencemag. She added that the new site, Wildlife Insights , could be a huge help to researchers, saving time and putting a global data set within easy reach.

The site will allow users to upload camera trap images and then have software analyze them. Users will be able to ask the system to search for their animal of interest, and all of the images will be publicly available.

Jorge Ahumada, executive director of Wildlife Insights told Sciencemag that this collected data will help reveal a lot of the inner lives of animals. For example, how do animals use their time during the day? Are they moving, eating, sleeping? ‘That helps us understand changes in the activity patterns of animals that usually happen when there’s some change in the environment, either because of climate change or because of people hunting them,’ he added.

An added benefit of the site is that it allows anyone to have access to this data, not just professionals. ‘Camera trapping is not a citizen science activity now, and I want it to become one. I think the potential is enormous and it’s a lot of fun for education.’ It might be interesting to know what visitors we get in our backyards unbeknownst to us!


Image: Pexels

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