Catching animals in action on camera

The Sambar deer setting off the camera trap as it wanders in the jungle at night.

The Sambar deer setting off the camera trap as it wanders in the jungle at night.

Camera trapping has a long history of use in the conservation world to obtain quantifiable data on elusive, hard to see animals.

On June 10, WWF-Malaysia Sarawak Programme Leader Dr Jason Hon will be presenting a talk, ‘Caught on Camera! Camera Trapping Activities in Sarawak’ at Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, Kuching at 7pm.

Dr Hon, in his talk, will highlight the findings from the camera trapping research that has been undertaken by WWF staff Sarawak over the past several years. This talk will enable participants to see the natural world which is usually hidden.

These cameras are set up in areas where zoologists anticipate animals, such as along animal trails or salt licks. The animals literally take their own pictures because they set off motion sensor device that snaps them in action.

This sounds easy, but it is not. Scientists must know the animal, their habits and needs. Then, they must predict where and when the target animals will be on the move.

The animals themselves present challenges. Elephants, for example, have destroyed cameras that were set up to record their actions.

The landscape presents difficulties too. The remaining natural habitats of many Sarawak’s animals tend to be remote. To set up camera traps scientists must forgo the comforts of the 21st century and trek sometimes for two or three days to research sites. However, the benefits are huge.

The data gathered by camera traps is critical as it allows conservationists to document the population of the wildlife in remote places, while previously it was based on guesswork. Also the impact of deforestation and habitat destruction is immediately visible. The infrared technology behind camera traps records all this data with minimum intrusion to the wildlife, and it has also led to the discovery of many species.

Dr Hon prefers to experience nature in real time rather than through the lens or magazines and his research takes him into these remote and pristine landscapes of Sarawak.

Unfortunately not everyone is able to experience nature in real time. This talk is an excellent opportunity for young and old alike to understand and value Sarawak’s diverse biological landscape.

WWF-Malaysia would like to get more people interested in conservation and it does this through engaging with students at all levels of education, as well as working in the Youth Green X-Change programme, a Natural Resources and Environment Board initiative. They also have internship programmes.

Dr Hon’s talk will explain the challenges and rewards of Camera Trapping Activities. The talk is jointly organised my Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch, WWF-Malaysia and Swinburne University of Technology.

Dr Hon received his doctorate degree from the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan and his MSc in Ecology from Aberdeen University, Scotland.

For more information or to register for the talk contact the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch at mnskuching@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/mnskb/.

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