Ready, Set, Action! Camera Traps in the Villages
Thorns, bushes and boulders were the theme of the day as we set up “camera traps” in Nangale Village. These automated, remotely triggered cameras will be used to validate and quantify the presence of wildlife in our study villages.
Incorporating remote photography into our project provides information about the presence of spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) and other small and medium-sized mammals in the villages. The camera traps will also capture domestic dog movements outside the households and potential domestic dog and wildlife interactions.
This information could reveal important aspects of domestic-dog population dynamics and environmental conditions (i.e., the presence of wildlife) that we’re unable to observe during household visits. Furthermore, understanding the diversity of wildlife presence in the villages can provide valuable information about the potential for disease transmission.
Setting up the cameras can be challenging. To avoid having thousands of pictures of human visitors (one of our cameras from last year had more than 3,000 pictures of curious kids and passersby!), we’re focusing our camera traps on kopjes, or rocky formations, throughout the village that are thought to be where wildlife is most abundant. To get into the kopjes, however, we have to crawl under thick branches, slink through thorny bushes and climb over giant boulders while carrying all our equipment. Luckily we have a great team to help navigate!
Last year, we were able to capture this image of a very photogenic spotted hyena…..we’ll see what we find this year!
A research associate in the zoo’s Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology, Anna Czupryna studies domestic dog population dynamics near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Her work is one part of a zoo-led vaccination campaign that protects the region’s people, pets and predators.