Wildlife is typically alert when people are around. This means that when you observe wild animals in their natural habitat, they may not exhibit much of their full range of natural behavior. They are aware of your presence and in a state of fight-or-flight (usually flight). Moreover, they may be so secretive, for example, like most wild cat species, that they are generally extremely difficult to observe.
Camera trapping is an effective and fun way to get a peek into the natural behavior of wildlife otherwise hidden. Camera trapping studies can provide information about species occurrences, habitat, and behavior like home ranges and territoriality.
Some of the mammalian species caught on our camera traps in Tiskita Private Biological Reserve:
- White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)
- Kinkajou (Potos flavus)
- Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata)
- Lowland Paca (Cuniculus paca)
- Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu)
- Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
- Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
- Cougar (Puma concolor)
Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA), set up the five year project MAPCOBIO from 2013 to 2018 to document biodiversity in Costa Rica by camera trapping. MAPCOBIO stands for Proyecto para la Promoción del Manejo Participativo en la Conservación de la Biodiversidad and is supported by UNESCO.
Throughout the country researchers participate in the camera trapping study to create a database that documents information about biodiversity with the goal to improve wildlife conservation.
Wild Macaw Association and Tiskita Private Biological Reserve participated with project MAPCOBIO and entered data in 2014. We are planning a fundraising campaign to acquire more and better equipment to continue camera trapping studies.
Preventing Wildlife Crime
Incidentally, camera traps also catch unexpected or unwanted presences. Unexpected can be e.g. cows or school kids wandering around. Unwanted is a person trespassing in a protected area. In the latter case, camera trapping can be a useful tool in preventing and dealing with illegal wildlife extraction, which is mostly hunting for bush meat and possibly trade of live animals.