Ever wondered how possible it is to take pictures of animals in their most concealed habitat, well thanks to the latest camera trap technology mission impossible is declared possible. I took a trip down the Bwindi impenetrable forest with Badru, ITFC’s TEAM Network site manager together with four other field assistants to practically go witness this mission in the making.
We traversed some of the craziest vegetation I have ever encountered in life, the true definition of penetrating the impenetrable, but we eventually made it to the permanent camera trap sites. It was all a bee of activities and all I did was sit and watch very attentively. These guys knew exactly what they were doing and they must have done this so many times so I asked Badru to walk me through the process.
For a moment I thought I was listening to a lecture, only this time it wasn’t in a lecture hall, but in the middle of the forest. The terminologies used were not the kind I could comprehend immediately so I asked for what I normally understand best, practicals! Badru was more than willing to demonstrate to me the whole concept like a two year old and alas, I got it.
So, apparently we had to navigate to the location, thanks to the GPS we didn’t get lost. Once there, we looked around for any animal signs or droppings to determine an active trail which would be a good location to set up the camera traps. The camera is fixed on a tree approximately 50 cm from the ground, low enough to capture the whole body of the animal and not just its ears or sections of its body. Apparently the camera is set facing the trail so as to record as many pictures of the animals as many as possible.
As I watch all this happening, am thinking to myself at how complex the process is. The moment I asked what kind of cameras were being used I guess I lost track of information. Requi…what? I ask again… Badru smiles and displays the camera to me, explaining that it’s a Reconyx HC500 hyper fire semi covert infrared camera trap. They’ve only got two of these, their latest design and model. I understand it’s a semi covert hence can take colored pictures during the day while using normal flash, and black and white pictures in the night using infrared.
The other cameras we used in the remaining sites were all Reconyx too, but different models. They were the RM 45. These use infrared both in the day and night hence only produces black and white pictures. He goes through the settings, switches it on, and checks battery and card. The card is erased to make sure it’s totally blank so that pictures taken are only for this day until they return to collect them after a period of thirty days.
My most favorite section was when Badru had to go on all his fours to demonstrate a walk test. This he did after arming the camera to see how far a camera can record a moving animal after identifying a potential location. When we were all done, I had learnt so much in just such a short time and had a clear understanding of the camera traps project. We hiked out the forest and I thought to myself, how amazing! I am more than looking forward to the next field experience…only this time I’ll be a pro too!
Badru and Avetino setting a camera trap.
Camera trap well set…ready to get those shy animals on record.