John Tolley, February 13, 2018
Minneapolis is more than a few miles from the plains of the Serengeti, but that isn't stopping the University of Minnesota from enlisting the aid of citizen-scientists to help further conservation efforts in Africa. The university's Lion Center launched the SnapshotSafari initiative, which uses hidden camera traps to collect images of the diverse wildlife of the Sub-Saharan region. The goal is to build a more complete and detailed picture of animal populations and their dispersion.
The public can further the research by logging in to the SnapshotSafari website, viewing individual images and noting what animal(s) are recorded. With camera traps placed in grids in South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe, the study has "captured" images of scores of species, including, lions, hyena, topi and zebra. The amount of data captured is unparalleled, says Dr. Craig Packer in blog post on Minnesota's website.
"Despite profound challenges in protecting Africa's remaining wildlife, there are a number of conservation success stories across the continent," said Packer, director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. "The camera trap grids will provide essential data for tracking the population status of all the larger species in each reserve. We will thereby be able to identify the most effective management strategies and help conservation agencies learn from one another's experiences."
Besides aiding in wildlife research, the project SnapshotSafari generates some stunning photographs of Africa's distinct animals. Below are just a few of our favorites, courtesy of the University of Minnesota Lion Center.