Friday, November 15, 2019

Update on the leopard mini-project

In July, Chimp&See re-launched the new project interface at Zooniverse with an upgrade of new workflows and remodeled discussion forums that facilitate exchange of the volunteers with the science team and among each other. At the same time, we re-launched the leopard mini-project that aims to assess the density of this important chimpanzee predator at all PanAf sites by identifying individual leopards.

The new interface enables us to have a dedicated discussion board for leopard videos and discuss questions related to leopards and other predators. Here the volunteers can post leopard videos they found during classification and discuss individual match proposals. Every video will be tagged by the volunteers with #leopard and the site name. We also ask for behavioral tags (like #marking, #resting, or #hunting), the sex, if seen, and to tag which sides of the body are visible in the video (front, back, left, or right). For discussing individual leopards in match proposals, it is important to compare the same side of the body for assessing the identity of the highly individually-specific pattern of spots and rosettes for any given leopard.

An example of a rather difficult perspective for identifying this gorgeous
leopard as the pattern is highly distorted. Original video here
In the first months of identifying leopards, we discovered that often for us the best perspective on the leopards from the Chimp&See video footage is the back view, when a leopard is walking away from the camera. The side views that many scientists use are, of course, even better, but rarely displayed in our footage and often distorted (see image above). Many cameras are set up facing animal trails, so when the leopard is walking slowly, we have the best chance to get a good look on the pattern found on the hind limbs and a reasonable number of images to confirm their identity. You can see here an example from “Tau”, a named male from the Quiet Wood site.

The images are stills from two videos captured on two separate days and different locations. Find more videos of Tau here.
The leopard video list and any information about the individuals seen are stored in the new open leopard spreadsheet. This spreadsheet, which we hope to automate partly in the future, replaces the old static known and prospective list for leopards. A storage solution for images of the identifying fur pattern will be added soon. The currently running Xenon Bloom site in West Africa already features beautiful leopards and we hope to name the first individual soon. You should ge involved.

If you want to discuss leopards and see how we identify individuals, please come over to Chimp&See, help us classify videos, and discuss with us!

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