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ADU HOW TO SET UP A CAMERA TRAP egan Loftie-Eaton – Animal Demography Unit – University of Cape Town
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  • ADU HOW TO SET UP A CAMERA TRAP Megan Loftie-Eaton Animal Demography Unit University of Cape Town
  • If you enjoy wildlife documentaries or scientific articles, you've probably seen still photos or video taken by "camera traps." Remote cameras have been used for years by scientists studying or documenting wildlife numbers and behaviour in difficult terrain. A camera trap is just like an ordinary digital camera except that it does not have a button to press to take a photo, it is triggered by movement or heat from animals
  • There is one Animal Demography Unit project for which camera traps play an absolutely crucial role and this is MammalMAP. MammalMAP is the Atlas of African Mammals. The aim of MammalMAP is to update the distribution records for all of Africas wild mammals the small ones, the big ones, the dry ones and the wet ones. Surely we know the distributions of Africas mammals? These are flagships species for tourism in Africa. Sadly, the answer is No the distributions are changing due to habitat destruction and climate change. Developing the 21st century distribution maps is filling a critical gap in conservation needs.
  • Step one, of course, is to purchase a camera trap there are various brands and models of camera traps available. You can follow this link accessories/camera-traps to find out more about which camera trap will work best for you. If you mention MammalMAP to Global Supplies, this company will give you a discount on your camera trap
  • Camera traps are great fun! Camera-trapping has proved to be a very effective way of finding out which elusive and, especially, nocturnal animals are in an area or on your property
  • It is very important to pick the right site for your camera trap. It helps to be quite sure that an animal will pass by the camera at some stage
  • Well-used game paths, hiking trails, quiet jeep tracks, dry watercourses and the bottom of ravines are all good places to set up your camera traps
  • For close shots, like on game paths, at watering holes or food sources set the camera up at no higher than waist height (if you are focusing on smaller animals it is better to set the camera up at a lower position)
  • If you are in an area where elephants, hyenas or large predators occur, make sure that your hands are free from any unusual or attractive odours e.g. food, perfumes etc. as this might tempt these animals to inspect the source of the odour and they may just have a pull or a bite at the camera trap to see if its to their liking
  • Another important factor to keep in mind is the direction of the rising and setting sun. Occasionally when a subject triggers the camera when it is pointed towards the sun as the sun is rising or setting (typically heavy activity hours) this can lead to overexposed or washed-out pictures.
  • **Picture from Camera Traps CC
  • We would love to see your camera trap photos in MammalMAP! Make your photos count for conservation!! You can submit your photos via the Virtual Museum upload site at and here is a slideshow that shows you exactly how to go about doing this: submit-records-to-the-animal-demography-units-virtual- museums-28710898