Challenges of using Camera Traps as a tool for Monitoring Wildlife Corridors
Updated: May 24
Technology over the last decade has made conservation accessible with just a click! Now, scientists capture wildlife images in their natural habitat with little to no disturbance, through the use of camera traps. Camera traps are digital cameras connected to an infrared sensor that can ‘detect’ moving objects, in this case, animals, which when triggered captures an image or a video and records it to a memory card for later retrieval.
At Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), we initiated a pilot project where we set up 28 camera traps along two different wildlife corridors (a connection linking between habitats to facilitate wildlife movement) with 14 cameras within each corridor. For our study, we had to monitor the cameras weekly through our community field staff. One day, Mary and I woke up by 5:30 am to leave for our first stop, which was 45 minutes away from camp. Along the way, we picked up Maxwell (ACK community field officer) who lived 10 minutes away. In the first corridor, all 14 cameras were running well. We only replaced the batteries that were running low, took out the used SD, and replaced it with empty SD cards. Then, we drove to the other corridor about 30 minutes away. On arrival, we were shocked to realize that five cameras were damaged at different levels. The other 9 cameras were all in good condition which gave us hope to continue for a few months with 23 functional camera traps.
Unfortunately, two weeks later one camera was reported stolen and the cable cut. We decided it was best to remove the cameras for now. As an organization, we understand that research and conservation efforts are faced with various risks and challenges. We prepare for the unexpected to the best of our ability and plan to improve our community engagement in our next phase of camera trap studies to minimize such losses.