Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Countdown Day 1: Update on our spooktacular camera reactions project!

Hi everyone! To kick off this year’s Chimp&See Halloween countdown, , we’ve put together some highlights of the near 'frightened' #camera_reactions we've observed so far thanks to your participation in the animal selfies project!

Usually the animals are more cautious or curious about the camera traps (when they notice them at all) but we have seen some startled chimpanzees (ACP00083cu, ACP00083vi), baby elephants (ACP00022hm, ACP000bgq8), and even a beautiful sooty mangabey seeming a bit surprised by the camera (ACP000fca6)! Here’s also a very spooky night video of a cautious bushpig wary of the camera, and listen carefully for the alarm grunt (ACP000bjlc).

Of course we never intend to scare wild animals when using camera-traps, and in fact we take extra care to camouflage the devices and use settings that will not startle the animals which is why 'surprised' and 'frightened' responses should be rare. For some of these exact reasons, the PANAF uses Bushnell Trophy Cameras with an infrared sensor that produces minimal light when triggered by an animal's movement. The Bushnell Trophy Cameras are also quiet, small, lightweight, and therefore easy to install in wild landscapes from the forest to the savannas.  

The camera traps are also given some extra protection and camouflage, particularly from those elephants who can do some serious damage! The camera-traps are placed inside a small tupperware container, sealed tight, and painted dark green (and sometimes they even get an extra metal box of protection too) This further prevents reflections from the camera lens occurring which reduces the likelihood that the camera surprises an animal. Of course we know that animals, especially primates, are exceptionally curious and therefore all the above precautions do not prevent regular #camtouch, #selfies, and #camera_reactions, from occurring. Please keep tagging videos where you observe chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, and elephants detecting (I.e #camera_reaction), playing or inspecting (e.g. #camtouch) the camera-traps as this will help us to gain a better understanding of what factors in the habitat and species-specific behaviour increases camera-trap interaction by individuals. Of course hashtagging other species' camera reactions is also welcome but we are concentrating on these animals first.

Thanks to the efforts of our citizen scientists and dedicated chimpandsee moderators, we now have a staggering 500+ clips of #baboon #camera_reactions and we are just shy of 500 #chimp #camera_reactions. Gorillas are also observed to react to cameras with 40 videos so far of #gorilla #camera_reaction and 125 #elephant #camera_reactions. With your continued help we look forward to discovering many more interesting, funny, and surprising reactions to the camera traps, especially as new videos are uploaded to the site. Happy Halloween :)

-the science team

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