Very large numbers of high quality digital images can be stored and modern batteries allow these devices to operate unsupervised night and day in remote locations for months at a time.
This gives us the opportunity to learn new things about elusive wild animals and some of the problems they face.
The images emerging from these projects are often engaging and useful in their own right, but we also need strong data management systems and robust analytical methods to turn the many 100s of thousands of images generated into scientifically valid conclusions.
ZSL is working to develop the statistical theory behind new methods that make full use of the information emerging from camera trap surveys.
We are also developing new software tools that make it easy to manage camera trap data and produce information that is relevant to critical conservation questions.
We typically use arrays of camera traps spaced across large areas to assess the distribution and abundance of key species of conservation concern and conduct biodiversity surveys, or to understand the impact of humans on whole animal communities.
A wildlife camera trap is a camera left at a location, rigged so that any approaching wild animal will automatically trigger the shutter release and take one or more photos or video sequences, without the photographer being present.
The first attempts to do this were made as early as 1877.