Magazine article Earth Island Journal

Camera-Shy?

Magazine article Earth Island Journal

Camera-Shy?

Article excerpt

Camera traps have been a boon for conservation. Thanks to the automated devices--which take a flash photo when motion detectors are triggered--scientists, conservationists, and nature lovers the world over have glimpsed the private lives of animals, uncovered previously unknown behaviors, and even discovered new species. But the ways in which camera traps might be affecting wild species are not as well understood. These devises are considered less invasive than other field observation techniques, but a recent study suggests that female jaguars in particular are becoming camera-shy, calling into question just how unobtrusive the technology really is.

The research, published last month in the journal Mammalian Biology, raises the concern that female jaguars may learn to avoid camera traps. Female jaguars are typically snapped less frequently than males during surveys, mostly because they move around less, and don't traverse such vast territories. However, during a 54-month study in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, 83 percent of all camera trap photos taken of female jaguars were taken during the first year of the study. After the first year of the study--which was conducted over five sample periods between 2005 and 2013--it was nearly a male-only show. According to study author Ana Carolina Srbek-Araujo, this suggests that the females may have been deliberately avoiding the traps. Males also showed similar behavior, but to a much lesser extent, she adds.

Past studies have demonstrated that animals both see and hear camera traps. …

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