Trail cameras are an important tool in wildlife research and conservation – and you get some surprising results.
What’s more majestic than seeing lions, big cats and wildlife in the African landscape – while outside of their pouncing range? With Zooniverse’s WildCam Gorongosa, citizen scientists identify animals taken by motion-activated trail cameras in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
The WildCam Gorongosa scientists use the results to study which animals are present, where they live, how they interact with one another, and to locate and track rare species. They also tag camera trap images with different animal species.
Led by lion conservation expert Paola Bouley (featured in the video below) the project is part of Zooniverse., the world’s leading citizen science platform that brings together people from all walks of life, from all over the world, to answer our biggest global challenges.
Zooniverse started in 2007, a group of astronomers wanted to use the million galaxy Sloan Digital Sky Survey data set to understand galaxy evolution. But in order to do that, first they needed to know the galaxy type for each galaxy: was it a spiral, elliptical or merger? It would have taken the small research team more than their professional lifetimes combined to classify all the galaxies. Instead, they decided to try an experiment: what if they placed the data online and crowdsourced the effort?
The experiment was an amazing success. In the first hours, they were getting 50,000 classifications per hour. In the first year they were able to get enough classifications to complete the entire data set and tackle their research questions. Today Galaxy Zoo still goes strong, with new data sets and questions to answer, having expanded to become Zooniverse. There are now over 110 citizen science projects across the disciplines – including physics, ecology, cancer research, climate science, arts, humanities, history, biomedical research and animals, of course.
Zooniverse provides the tools for researchers to ‘unlock their data’ by crowdsourcing the tagging, annotation, marking and transcription of images, video or audio data. Projects often work in concert with machine learning methods to most efficiently process these large data sets, all the while prioritising providing an engaging and valuable experience for volunteers. The community has grown to over 1.6 million registered volunteers working directly with hundreds of researchers around the world – and has led to many transformative discoveries.
WildCam Gorongosa also has an associated online classroom with activities and lesson plans for curious learners to bring real data and engaging visualisations into the classroom – perfect for educators doing distance learning.
Watch how the team capture these photos using remote camera technology:
Zooniverse info for all.
Paola Bouley, Lion Project Director and Co-founder
This project has been selected as part of NatureFutures, a new storytelling project that maps the innovations in wildlife, biodiversity and citizen science and the biologists, engineers, designers and entrepreneurs behind them. Atlas of the Future is excited to partner with the Ministry of Territory and Sustainability of the Government of Catalonia.
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