animal tracks

(Written by Intro to GIS student, S. M.)

Tracking animals and their migration patterns has always been immensely important in conservation work. These methods, all the more vital during an age of decreasing biodiversity, are diverse. The main way for tracking animals at the moment is to compile data from various sightings on where the animals have been. But there are problems in this approach. It’s hard to sight small creatures like birds. If an animal is observed, the everyday person cannot always be expected to correctly identify the species. Also, many people can report the same animal. These mis-sightings can skew data analysis.

The other method commonly in use is radio or satellite tracking. This involves a collar or implant being attached to the animal in question. The antenna sends a signal that is received by orbiting satellites, which is then analyzed. This method is much more reliable than the one mentioned above but it is much more expensive to initiate and maintain. Also, the animal to be tracked must be caught and tagged in the first place. In South Africa the Limpopo Wild Dog Project uses this technique to enhance conservation efforts.

A new method of tracking animals is coming into use that involves much more public participation. Many projects are requesting that people send them photos. In many cases scars or various markings can then be used to identify individual animals. Researchers at Save the Manatee use this method, among others. This method is useful because it gets the general public involved in conservation efforts and increases awareness. The one problem with this method was that the location of the animals was not always reported accurately. People failed to remember where they had taken the picture. But a new technology is entering the market that may make this much easier. GPS enabled cameras will allow people to know exactly when and where their pictures were taken. This could make things much easier for researchers and their conservation efforts (more info on GPS cameras.

Comments are closed.