So you like those cute kitty pics all over your social media, but that’s only because you haven’t discovered the latest citizen science program Camera CATalogue. You can be on safari at your desk, IDing wild cats and other animals in cool pics from the field, according to a post on National Geographic. This is a collaboration with photos coming from motion activated camera traps mounted by Panthera, a wild cat conservation group, and internet platform coming from Zooniverse, a site already famous for its engaging citizen science projects. The CATalogue has a quick-start tutorial to get you up-to-speed on your cat lingo and photos range from stalking cats at night to leaping cats by day. Plus, you never know when you are going to get a rhino in the mix!
Their program is enabling scientists to learn about the trends in cat populations. Ross Pitman, Leopard Monitoring Coordinator at Panthera, explains the value of the data.
A suite of important questions center around indices of prey abundance and prey quality. Is there enough prey around to support carnivores in the area? And if not, what are the primary causes of prey decline? These prey-focused questions might generate more questions related to human pressure, perhaps from poachers or subsistence farmers. How are the animals in the area—both carnivores and herbivores—responding to human disturbance? Are animals actively avoiding densely populated areas, and what are the conservation implications for these animals or the financial repercussions (through ecotourism) for people?
CATalogue is helping to create awareness about the poaching issue and soon Panthera may be able to take action with poachers. Not only do they have a motion activated camera to capture animals, but they are also experimenting with one that can differentiate animals from humans—the PoacherCam.
Using cellular networks, the PoacherCam can instantly transmit images of people, such as poachers in protected areas, to law enforcement officials, who can respond and intercede potential poaching threats.
They are joining other organizations using sensors and cameras to monitor wildlife at risk. So, citizen science is really taking hold from both a data and hardware point of view. That means there is plenty of room for hobbyists and techies to get involved. Why not get started by learning more about motion activated cameras. We’ve got a tutorial for Cloud Cam, an internet-connected security camera. It uses a Raspberry Pi and Pi Cam for a sweet model of surveillance. Wildlife could be your pets wrestling in the livingroom or the candy dish thief in your office. Have fun checking out the pics on Dropbox!