WildTrack with SAS volunteers and NC State electrical engineering group at Carolina Tiger Rescue on a hot day in June. We got lots of footprint images with the Kinect camera,
and for the first time sampled the footprints for trace DNA. The tigers were hot and lethargic, and walked very slowly down the sand trail….perfect!
Some years ago we worked at Otjiwa in Namibia, using footprints to monitor a population of white rhino. We published a paper on this population in 2008. Subsequently we thought it would be interesting to look at shape analysis as another way of demonstrating real differences in the feet of these rhino. Our paper with mathematician colleague Peter Law is just out in the Wildlife Society Bulletin – and demonstrates that variation between rhino footprints can also be described using shape analysis.
Law, P.R., Jewell, Z.C. & Alibhai, S.K. Using Shape and Size to Quantify Variation in Footprints for Individual Identification: Case Study with White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum). Wildlife Society Bulletin 37(2):433–438; 2013; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.250
We’re working with Duke PhD student Alexandra Sutton, who reports here on her research – trying to ameliorate human-wildlife conflict in Kenya. Alexandra is hoping to use footprints to identify rogue carnivores who routinely visit bomas (fences enclosing livestock) for an easy meal, and she’s working with local people to help build stronger bomas.
For more details, read Fences and Footprints