In this post, we will compare to traditional methods of monitoring wildlife, such as using human observers or tracking devices, and explain how trail cameras allow researchers and conservationists to gather valuable data without disrupting the animals' natural behavior.
Why monitor wildlife?
Protecting individual wild animals is more of a means of protecting populations. As a species, humans are always environmental, so the environment must remain stable. Environmental issues affect the earth's ecological circle and directly relate to the foundation of human beings as a species. So, preserving wild animals is a concrete measure to protect the earth's ecosystem. The earth's ecological circle is the most important. Therefore, human beings work hard to study and protect the earth's ecological circle, study biodiversity and understand the latest developments of species and the distribution and survival status of populations. This is very important for the environmental system we depend on for survival. Know enough so we can make informed conservation and management decisions. As human social activities are changing the world around us, we must be aware of and take responsibility for the multitude of changes we may see in our living world.
Monitoring wildlife is an important part of conservation. Evidence-based conservation efforts, data-driven decision-making for adaptive management, and sustainable use of natural resources are all based on the premise that population decline can be detected in time. Monitoring objectives can range from assessing the presence/absence of a species to knowing the exact density of one or more species.
Wildlife Detection Methods
Humans observe directly. Human observation can be direct, such as spotting animals, or indirect, such as recording signs such as nests, footprints, or droppings, directly observing and recording animal habits. But this requires some experience and a highly skilled observer. Observer bias may arise from skill differences and fatigue among observers, although these issues can be reduced by careful training, limiting the length of monitoring sessions, and limiting the number of tasks assigned to each observer and personnel costs. At the same time, human observation is limited by the environment, terrain, climate, and daylight. Mammals and birds are easy to detect due to vocalization, size, and diurnal habits, but rare, small, burrowing, nocturnal, and cryptic species are less easily observed by human observation.
High-resolution satellite imagery is used to detect illegal fishing and mining, map the world's coral reefs, monitor desertification and deforestation, and locate and count large animals such as whales, elephants, walruses, seals, and albatrosses, which live in remote, inaccessible or difficult-to-monitor areas. Scientists use satellite-based tracking tags to collect and communicate the location of animals. The most common systems are ARGOS (Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite) and GPS (Global Positioning System).
The ARGOS system, in use since the 1970s, uses tags to transmit position data to polar-orbiting satellites as they pass overhead, and the satellites relay the information to data-processing centers on Earth. Since ARGOS tags must be transmitted into outer space, they have traditionally been used on large animals such as polar bears, elephant seals, or tiger sharks. Instead of transmitting a signal, GPS tags receive data from a satellite network to determine the animal's location and can measure data such as the animal's health, water temperature, pressure (to calculate depth), and light levels. Observations using satellite images make up for the lack of human observation to a certain extent. However, the manufacturing cost of satellites is very expensive, and observation is also very limited by satellite development technology.
UAVs are used for "distance sampling," which estimates the probability of detection based on the distance of an animal to a transect or sample point. For ungulates on open grasslands, the farther they are from the observer, the less likely they are to be found. UAVs are relatively simple, reusable, quiet, and fly low. The operator can set the route to meet the transect requirements of mathematical statistics. It can also flexibly carry different forms of image/video devices, such as thermal lenses, to complete different investigation tasks. Foot surveys are less accurate and less efficient than drone aerial surveys.
The drone can survey 6 hours daily and can cover 7.2 square kilometers. Drones can run anywhere from $80 to $150 per hour of flight time without factoring in labor costs. In other words, spend a minimum of $480 per day. Compared with infrared cameras, the input cost of drones is higher. Moreover, the continuous time is limited with high weather and terrain requirements. It is not suitable for close-range observation of animal habits, but more suitable for long-distance and long-distance observation. It has great significance for population estimation.
Trail cameras are a big event in wildlife survey research. It solves the problems of high manual survey intensity and the difficulty of seeing live animals in the wild with other traditional survey methods, and can easily obtain real and valuable images and data information. Therefore, trail cameras have quickly become an important means for zoologists to conduct wildlife surveys and research.
When trail cameras are not available, getting photos of animals in the wild relies on photographers going out into the wild. First of all, it needs a place where people can reach and hold the camera stably, secondly, it needs to meet the shooting weather, and finally, the animal just passes the shooting range. It is very difficult to take a photo of a wild animal, and the probability of shooting is very small. Even studying animal habits is very challenging.
trail cameras use temperature changes or motion to trigger the camera shutter to capture pictures and videos. For example, when an animal approaches the camera at a certain distance, the temperature of the environment brought about by the body temperature changes, the trail camera senses it, and automatically triggers the shooting, and the photo of the animal is taken and saved. The working principle of the trail camera shows obvious features and advantages: automatic photography, can be placed in any environment in the wild, 24 hours on duty regardless of day and night, low environmental requirements, as long as the battery is sufficient, it can work continuously for several months. For the best shots in the field, you can use any Campark trail camera with a high-resolution display and long-lasting battery life.
The trail camera makes it easy to solve many problems of the manual shooting of wild animals. Some animals in nature are extremely sensitive and alert, their living habits are extremely secretive, and they are extremely sensitive to people and surrounding sounds and smells. For nocturnal animals whose environment is inaccessible and mainly active at night, trail cameras play a vital role.
It is a particularly challenging activity for wildlife monitoring because of the limited visibility due to environmental or topographical influences, and the diversity, mystery, and low density of many animal species, bringing more unknowns and complexities to wildlife detection sex. More and more scientists and conservationists have access to cutting-edge tools to monitor and study wildlife. Since each monitoring method has its advantages and limitations, every investment in science and technology is precious for animal protection. I also hope that more and more people and new technologies will be seen on the way to protect wild animals in the future.