Camera Trapping – Wildlife Selfies

The application of camera trapping as a methodology for conservation research and field study has been revolutionary.

Activated remotely by a motion or infrared sensor and using a light beam as a trigger, camera traps enable us to capture 24 x 7 footage of places that are not easily accessible and most importantly with minimum human interference; this has formed the core of its value for wildlife studies. Knowledge from camera trapping has offered ground-breaking insight towards the study of animal behavior, species richness, detection of rare species, estimation of population size, habitat use and occupation of human built structures.

Can you spot the camera trap on the picture below?

Camera trap in scrub jungle
Camera trap in scrub jungle

The importance of camera trapping in field study is exemplified by a recent revelation concerning honey badgers (Mellivora Capensis) in India. Its current range spans Africa, South West Asia and parts of the Indian Subcontinent. Little is known about this nocturnal ratel (a badger-like mammal), as it is difficult to study by conventional mammal surveys on account of its large space requirements. Its population density remains low with extremely rare sightings in India. Nonetheless, thanks to camera trapping, the honey badger was documented for the very first time in Karnataka.

The elusive nature of honey badger’s implies that their population could dip to critical lows and go undetected by conservation authorities. A team of dedicated field biologists led by Sanjay Gubbi set up traps in Kaveri Wildlife Sanctuary over the study period of three months (Jan – March, 2014) when they recorded 41 images of honey badgers in Habur, Halagur, Kudalli, MM Hills ranges. For all reasons stated, it is only understandable that the news of the honey badger’s presence in this southern scrub and riverine habitat enhances the “conservation value of the dry savannah woodland forests of Kaveri”.

This story in the news:

ITW Buzz: We began camera trapping (2013) in local trekking areas, private farms, edges of fences and other strategic locations along assumed animal corridors. One particular camera trap documenting the movement around a lake in Magadi caught these striking images of the wild:

Elephant camera trap
Wild elephant drinking from lake, caught on camera trap in Magadi

Villagers were washing clothes and bathing in the lake the very same morning!

For us, it is reassuring to learn that these large mammals still exist so close to Bangalore city, this inspires us to continue camera trapping, conservation awareness and work towards increased biodiversity and co-existence in human dominated landscape.

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