We wrap up our Camera Trap Series today with a final run of pictures. We’ll go into the technology behind the camera traps in more detail in a later post, but what blows my mind even more than the cameras themselves is the post-processing software.
As you can probably imagine, over the course of a 54 day study there would be many thousands of pictures that aren’t useful. In fact in a study conducted primarily to get information on leopards, the vast majority of photographs can be discarded. Impalas, birds, elephants; none of them are going to help further our understanding of the leopard density at Londolozi. But instead of some poor soul having to sit and painstakingly search through countless images for the few leopard photos, the software is able to do it automatically.
All images are uploaded into a program that is able to recognise patterns and shapes, and then sort them accordingly. Impala photos go into that folder, leopards into this one, Nyalas into that one… Researchers are able to get though a mountain of images at the push of a button, making their job infinitely easier.
The pattern recognition software is able to identify individual leopards based on their flank coat patterns. We’ll go into this another time, but for now enjoy the pictures…
The Inyathini male. Instantly recognisable by his slightly shorter tail, we don’t even need the pattern recognition software to tell that this is him. The dominant male south of the Sand River on Londolozi, he appeared in a high percentage of the camera traps in that area.
It’s always nice to get more than one species in the frame in normal photography, but on a camera trap it’s especially pleasing. A white rhino comes down to a drink while an nyala emerges from a thicket-line behind the camera.
A Wattled Lapwing. These birds were hardly ever seen on Londolozi a few years ago, but over the last two or three years a few pairs have established themselves around a couple of the more prominent waterholes, and their distinctive calls are being heard far more regularly.
We discussed the difference between large- and small-spotted genets in one of the previous camera trap posts. The large-spotted has the black tail tip, which can clearly be seen in this photograph.
A young male warthog clearly wasn’t too worried about the camera trap when there were delicious shoots to get to. Warthogs will get down on their knees in order to better access low shoots and roots.
Certainly not the most beautiful photo ever taken of a lilac-breasted roller, but even from a single image one is able to interpret behaviour. Almost certainly the camera didn’t capture the photo while the bird was flying by; the roller must have landed on the ground in pursuit of a morself of food, and then on its takeoff triggered the mechanism that releases the shutter.
A banded mongoose scurries after its troop. The green grass in this photo can be deceiving; the bush is not yet this lush. This grassy area is very close to the river, so has access to a slightly higher water table. This photo was taken at the same station as the hippo facial after dark in one of the previous posts.
It’s not often one get such a great view of a bushbuck, as they are normally shy and retiring animals, like their name suggests. This female was most likely moving from the riverbank down into one of the channels where the reedbeds provide great cover.
One doesn’t often see impalas with this many oxpeckers on them. Perhaps this individual was sick, and hadn’t been engaging in the normal level of mutual grooming one finds within the herds, which may have contributed to a higher parasite load.
Helmeted guineafowls scurry onwards, hastening to their tree-top roosts. These birds spend their days on the ground looking for food, but when darkness falls they had back to the trees for the night.
Another stalwart of some of the stations; the Mashaba female. The rnagers and trackers had a bet on for which station would capture the most images, and as the Mashaba female happened to be denning very close by at the time, this particular spot was almost a sure thing!
A zebra seemingly walking head first into another one. In all likelihood this was a male attempting to assess the reproductive condition of the female.
Indecision in Nyalas. This female seems like she doesn’t quite know which way around the camera trap to move, although maybe she was just curious and coming in for a closer look.
The white-tailed mongoose is Londolozi’s biggest mongoose species, and is almost exclusively nocturnal. It is also solitary, so you won’t see a group of them together like the dwarf or Banded varieties. You might see a mother and her offspring or a mating pair, but that’s about it.
What Can We See When No One’s Watching? Part 1
What Can We See When No One’s Watching? Part 2
What Can We See When No One’s Watching? Part 3