We recently launched our exciting new Cameras for Cats campaign, supporting a multi-landscape camera trapping initiative to gather data on Borneo’s secretive wild cats. In this article, we will explore the survey methods used by our teams in the field and learn all about camera trapping for conservation research.
Camera traps play an important role in shaping our understanding of wild animals’ behaviour. Many animals, including Borneo’s wild cats, are elusive and will flee at the first signs of human disturbance; camera traps provide a more intimate look at wild populations and require less manpower relative to survey effort.
In addition, wild cats often occur at low densities and are seldom seen by people. Rather than having field teams in the forest keeping watch 24/7, camera traps allow us to easily establish presence data for rare species, identifying priority areas for habitat protection and conservation management.
So how do camera traps work?
The basic camera trap system consists of infrared LEDs, a camera and a sensor, surrounded by strong, waterproof casing to withstand extreme weather and possible damage from wild animals.
When an animal crosses the sensor, it triggers the camera shutter, producing a photo or video footage. Setting up camera traps, we must first consider which spots are likely to yield the most useful data – along routes with higher levels of wildlife traffic, for example. Each trap is then secured around a tree-trunk using a piece of belt-like webbing and a cable lock.
For a proper introduction to Borneo’s cat species, keep an eye out for our next article which will be a deep dive into the island’s five wild cats, their conservation status and threats to their survival. Until then…
Our Cameras for Cats campaign needs you! We’re trying to source funding for 50 camera traps, SD cards and batteries, as well as salaries, transport, food and accommodation for our research teams out in the field. DONATE to become a #WildCatWarrior and support the Kalimantan Wild Cat Initiative, fuelling protections for Borneo’s threatened cat species.
Written by Olivia Pilmore-Bedford, Communications Officer BNF International