Tag Archives: camera traps

Publish or perish

Science is incomplete if the findings are not communicated. Collecting biological data from the forest is one part, and communicating the science is the other.  My career as a scientist can be made or broken according to how much I publish, this is supported by the “publish or perish” catchphrase.

A 2012 publication by ITFC and UWA staff

I therefore take publishing of my research findings  very seriously. More recently, my colleagues at the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) and I published a scientific paper in the African Journal of Ecology.  This paper reported the first large scale, systematic camera trap based evaluation of Bwindi’s  ground dwelling animal’s distribution with relation to distance to park edge and elevation.  The implications of these results on habitat protection and animal conservation in Bwindi were also discussed.

Badru setting a camera trap

We placed automatic cameras (camera traps) at sixty locations for a month each. Locations where each species was and was not detected were compared to determine the influence of distance to park edge and changes in elevation.

The 15,912 images recorded had a lot to tell. Twenty mammal and four bird species were identified. The Black-fronted duiker (a forest antelope) was captured the most times. The images also included over 600 images of the elusive, rare and poorly known African golden cat from fifteen different locations. More surprising images included the Sitatunga (an antelope common in swamps), which was recorded in Bwindi for the first time. The Yellow-backed duiker (a forest antelope) and Handsome Francolin (a bird) were more common in the forest interior. On the other hand, the L’hoesti monkey was more common at the park edge. Images of illegal hunters (poachers) were also captured.

The Black fronted duiker was captured most times

The world’s second and Africa’s most poorly known cat – the African golden cat in Bwindi

These results highlight the significance of the TEAM Network activities in Bwindi. These activities not only inform management decisions, but also highlight conservation challenges . For instance, the L’hoesti monkey  (categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature) is associated with community land close to the park edge where it damages food crops. This is a recipe for conflicts between humans and wildlife. At the same time, species that avoid the edge of the forest may already be indicating their vulnerability to human activities. Furthermore, interior species, like Handsome Francolin is typically restricted to high-altitude undisturbed forest, which is declining elsewhere in Uganda.

Handsome Francolin is restricted to high elevations in Bwindi, where it is threatened by hunting for food and cultural values. High altitude forest is declining else where in Uganda.

The camera trapping started by ITFC/Uganda Wildlife Authority with the support of the TEAM Network of Conservation International (CI) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) offers significant progress in monitoring terrestrial vertebrates in Bwindi. We anticipate more fascinating scientific discoveries from this activity.

Till then, I will let you know when we publish our next paper.

With best regards,

Badru Mugerwa

A missing ID

Our TEAM camera traps continue to deluge us with information. Our 2010 camera trap survey recorded the first records in Bwindi of the sitatunga, the melanistic color morph of the African golden cat, poachers  and many more. Earlier this year, a mystery duiker and more evidence of poaching were recorded. This time around, I have images of  pigs whose species I am having trouble to confirm. May I please seek for  your expert advice?

Side view

Front view

Front view

I look forward to  your thoughts.

With wishes,
Badru

More surprises-from the African elephant to the Scaly ant-eaters

What makes my work with camera traps thrilling is the big number of images (and surprises that come with them) we get from our camera trapping activity.  Last year we captured twenty and four species of mammals and birds respectively.  Despite missing a few expected species, images included those of the enigmatic and secretive threatened African Golden cat, the endangered   mountain gorilla and chimpanzees, and the locally less known honey badger. However, even with 15912 images, the animal species list of Bwindi is far from complete. This is evident from images of this year’s TEAM network camera trapping.

After setting and retrieving cameras at 60 different locations, I was so ecstatic to do the species identification. This year’s first surprise was of the African Elephant!!, captured so close to the camera with a lot of its details shown. Just last night as I was identifying and attaching scientific names to the animals from the images, a rush of excitement ran through my body when I saw a quite unusual animal. It is the scaly ant eater. YES!! I may be wrong, but I suspect that these images are of the African White-bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis). This animal is listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

Interesting facts about scaly ant eaters or the pangolins:

These animals are epitomized by long, very muscular tails. Their bodies are covered with a hard, scaly covering that makes them look more like reptiles than mammals. They are the only mammals with over 40 bones in their tails. Pangolins eat mostly ants and termites, using their pointy snouts and their long, wormlike sticky tongues. Pangolins are toothless, thus their prey is ground up with sand in their gizzard like stomach. They protect themselves from predators by rolling themselves into a tight ball and sticking their sharp scales out.

This animal has so far appeared at two different locations in the lower elevation forest of the park. Unlike the elephant, it did not spend so much time close to the camera. It was captured while in motion. I still have images of animals from twenty six cameras to identify and attach names. I will come again to share with you more of Bwindi’s rich heritage. Our dear readers, allow me to share with you some of the images of this amazing creature.

Here he comes....

Here he comes....

He gives us his clear view….note the dark coloring around his eye

He gives us his clear view….note the dark coloring around his eye

He is passing by the camera

He is passing by the camera

and more of him…

and more of him…

note the pointed ending of his tail

note the pointed ending of his tail

From a different location-there is a small pangolin. So cute!!!

From a different location-there is a smaller pangolin. So cute!!!

My best regards,

Badru

Bwindi elephant — a camera trap exclusive

Last year we set out camera traps at sixty locations for a month each. That’s part of the TEAM project we told you about. We got over 15,000 pictures. While some were empty or unclear, most had animals.   A total of 15,912 images were recorded in 1800 camera days.  10,029 images were useful (images of wildlife).  The animals identified included 24 species of ground dwelling animals (including mammals and birds). These included most of the species you would expect in Bwindi: Mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, duikers, pigs, civets etc. as well as a few less expected animals such as the honey badger and jackal.  We did a whole series of blogs on them last year.  But one animal eluded us entirely … how can you miss over 30 elephants in a forest the size of Bwindi?

Well this year we have started the cameras again. The first set of 30 cameras has been set out and the earliest ones have already been collected. Its always exciting to see what we have — so I persuaded Badru to pass over the files to me (he’s out in the field collecting more cameras).

So … guess what? We have quite a few animals and YES we have an elephant! CLOSE and BIG. Let me share a few pictures. The camera was spotted — luckily it survived.  Enjoy.

Let us know what you think!

Best wishes

Douglas

Bwindi on candid camera 9 – surprise guest

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi. We are trying to share some of the 15,000 pictures in a series of pictorial blogs. But we need to be quite selective.

Today we focus on an odd one that we did not expect. We did not know we had these here …

It’s a Honey badger or Ratel (Mellivora capensis)

Don’t know much about these.  We don’t normally associate these with forests.  That’s the great thing about research like this … you can see something new and unexpected.

Hope you are enjoying these images  — a few more still to go.

Best wishes

Douglas and Badru

Bwindi on candid camera 8 – Mountain gorillas

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi. We shall share some in a series of pictorial blogs.

Today, at last, we do the Mountain gorillas. There are some good ones here. We’ll let the images speak for themselves

Mountain gorillas, Bwindi 2010.

Mountain gorillas, Bwindi 2010. Someone has spotted the camera

Mountain gorillas, Bwindi 2010.

Mountain gorillas, Bwindi 2010.

Mountain gorillas, Bwindi 2010. Moving in for a closer look

What do you think they might be thinking?

Douglas and Badru

Bwindi on candid camera 7 – a rodent review (more than rats)

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi. We shall share some in a series of pictorial blogs.

Today it’s rodents … we have lots so we try to be a bit selective!

Not sure we can name all of these …

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Squirrel …

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Giant pouched rat (Cricetomys  emini)

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Rodent or shrew?

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Squirrel … but which? We think perhaps Boehm’s Squirrel (Paraxerus boehmi)

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Seems to be a Brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus)

Tarzan the African dormice (Graphiurus spp), Bwindi — we are impressed, we didnt know they were such tree (here liana) climbers!

Best wishes

Douglas and Badru

Bwindi on candid camera 6 – small and furry

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi. We are sharing some in a series of pictorial blogs.

Today it’s … what is that …?

We think it may be Demidoff’s galago (Galagoides  demidoff)

Possible Demidoff’s galago (Galagoides  demidoff)

It’s a galago (some people call them “bush-babies”). It may be Demidoff’s (Galagoides  demidoff) … but we cannot be sure.  Feel free to correct us!

Best wishes

Douglas and Badru

Bwindi on candid camera 5 – pigs!

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi. We are sharing some in a series of pictorial blogs.  Today it’s the best pigs …  I like these guys.

Common Bush pig (Potamochoerus  larvatus), Bwindi

Family of Common Bush pigs (Potamochoerus  larvatus), Bwindi

Phew, there are still heaps of pictures to go.

Best wishes

Douglas and Badru

Bwindi on candid camera 4 – Monkeys and baboons

We have lots of great pictures from the recent camera trap efforts in Bwindi.

We shall share some in a series of pictorial blogs.  Today it’s monkeys.  Actually most of the monkeys stay up in the trees most of the time, so there are not so many great pictures.  Baboons and L’hoests are happy on the ground though.  Take a look …

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The main monkey we see in the photos is the L’hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti)

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Olive Baboons (Papio anubis) are common near the forest edge

Best wishes

Douglas and Badru