Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Tourist photographs are a cheap and effective way to survey wildlife


JULY 22, 2019


Tourists on safari can provide wildlife monitoring data comparable to traditional surveying methods, suggests research appearing July 22 in the journal Current Biology. The researchers analyzed 25,000 photographs from 26 tour groups to survey the population densities of five top predators (lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs) in northern Botswana, making it one of the first studies to use tourist photographic data for this purpose.

The idea came to lead author Kasim Rafiq after hours with his Land Rover grill-deep in an abandoned warthog burrow. Rafiq, then a Ph.D. candidate at Liverpool John Moores University, had been following the tracks of a one-eared leopard named Pavarotti that he'd been searching for for months.

"Eventually I got out of the hole and spoke with the safari guides who I met on the road nearby, and who were laughing," says Rafiq, who is about to begin a Fulbright Fellowship to expand the project further at UC Santa Cruz. "They told me that they'd seen Pavarotti earlier that morning. At that point, I really began to appreciate the volume of information that the guides and tourists were collecting and how it was being lost."




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