• ORC Team

What we have been missing but the cameras haven’t! Annual camera trap waterhole monitoring

September was that time of the year again… What time?? Well, annual waterhole monitoring of course!!

As those who have been following us might know, every year in the peak of the dry season ORC deploys camera traps at each waterhole on the Ongava Game Reserve. The images are then classified with every animal recorded and added to our long-term database. The camera trap data also supplement the data collected by observers who monitor the waterholes for 96 hours but who are less reliable than cameras between midnight and sunrise.

This year was also a bit special as we deployed the cameras for about 2 weeks longer than the 96 hour count so we couldinvestigate finer scale behaviour, such as the frequency animals visit waterholes.

Now that the cameras are all back and the images safely downloaded onto hard drives, the office work can start! But first some numbers: a total of 47 cameras were deployed this year, and they collected nearly 500 000 images! We have some serious work ahead of us to classify them all.

However, there is another thing special about this year: it’ll be the first time our images will be processed using Artificial Intelligence (AI)!! This will be done via TrapTagger, a tool specifically designed for identifying animals in images. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we humans won’t have any work to do. We will still need to check the results and go through the images for which the AI identification is not sure.

The process will take a few months, but in the meantime you can have a look at a few of our images for this year below, enjoy!