Why Camera Traps Are an Important Conservation Tool

Some of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world are notoriously elusive, which creates frustration for researchers attempting to determine their populations and devise strategies for protecting them. However, camera traps have proven to be of inestimable value as a safe means of collecting images and data in the field. Scientists have been surprised and gratified at the high-quality pictures they have been able to obtain for a minimum of cost and effort.

To set up a camera trap, researchers need a 35mm or digital camera with flash, an infrared heat and motion detector, a waterproof box, and a belt to strap the device to a tree. Although standard 35mm cameras take fewer pictures, they have the advantage of triggering quicker than digital cameras, so they are often able to obtain more complete shots of passing animals. Digital cameras have the advantage of larger memories. Researchers must periodically hike to remote camera locations to replace film or memory cards and batteries for cameras and infrared devices.

Considerable care goes into scouting out the best locations for camera traps. Researchers look for places that animals frequent, such as game trails, watering holes, ridges, creeks, and mud wallows. Sometimes large animals and poachers damage the traps, so they must be replaced and repositioned. The images that camera traps gather become important components in conservation campaigns on the internet and in other media. Pictures of rare animals in specific locations underscore the effect of human agency on ecosystems and the urgency of preserving those ecosystems by employing environment-friendly development and logging practices.

Equipment can be expensive for conservationists in developing countries. Still, camera traps remain one of the most cost-efficient methods for conservation groups to acquire necessary data that can help them devise strategies for saving endangered wildlife. Consider donating to help with the cost of equipment or batteries for camera traps used in conservation research projects.

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