I have spent the last week in Bern Switzerland with the KORA group hosted by Fridolin Zimmerman who are primarily using camera trapping for Lynx research and monitoring but in recent times trying to gather data on wolf sightings. KORA has a very competent group of biologists who are involved in some very interesting and controversial wildlife management issues. The group has been using camera traps for many years (since 1997) and have also attempted to build their own camera traps. They now mainly use Cuddeback Capture and Reconyx although they have recently acquired the new Cuddeback Attack to trial. They still have some CamTracker that they modified and still use. Camera sets mostly comprise two Cuddeback almost facing each other because they need to gather data on both flanks for identification purposes. Their survey design is a grid based approach at 2.5 km2 across the whole of Switzerland. Surveys are obviously limited to some extent by access during colder months and breeding season.
KORA has their own data base that is used for coding and storing all their data and they use Wild ID http://www.conservationresearch.co.uk/Flank_extract_video.htm by Lex Hiby to identify existing animals detected by camera traps.
One of the KORA students (Elias Pesenti) has just submitted a neat Thesis comparing 3 methods of density estimation based on their camera trapping data. They found that the spatially explicit mark recapture model plus using habitat use model data gave accurate estimates of Lynx density.
We also had the opportunity to brain storm ideas for the ultimate camera trap and refined some thoughts on functionality that would help zoologist camera trappers. One of the intern students from Slovakia (Jakub Kubala) is trialling the use of Scoutguard 550 and the new Bushnell Trophy Cam on Lynx and Bear, he reported some problems with clarity of images from Scoutguards and prefers the Bushnell’s.
I found this week to be very informative and I also had the chance to set some camera traps at altitudes of 2000 metres to experience the field challenges posed by studying alpine species. A stand out feature for me has been the importance of understanding your equipment and making sure you have tools that are fit for purpose, and how Australia is not the only market for white flash camera traps.
Thank you to everyone at KORA for hosting me all week in particular Fridolin Zimmerman (and Laure) for their wonderful hospitality and efforts in making my week in Switzerland very rewarding.