By Katrina Leser, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida
My involvement with WildTrack began a little over a year ago while interning at an elephant research and education facility in South Africa.
WildTrack was beginning to investigate the possibility of creating an FIT algorithm for African elephants and I was tasked with the job of collecting the initial stockpile of photos from which Zoe and Sky could base their measurements. It was a straightforward project and a good introduction to the processes used in footprinting; I simply had to walk the tamed animals across a pre-raked sandpit, then place the ruler next to the prints and take photos. After taking a couple hundred pictures, I assumed I had mastered the task.
When I arrived in Namibia this summer to help with the rhino pilot program, I was in for a shock.
WildTrack teams led by Dr Peter Law in Namibia are monitoring black rhino for the Namibian government. We’re running pilots at three different locations (confidentiality maintained for security) using FIT and matching heel patterns to individuals for quick reference. Horseback monitoring can also allow our teams to cover more ground in some areas. We hope to unroll to a much larger area over the next two years to provide cost-effective and community-friendly conservation for rhino.
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With co-authors from Duke Kunshan University and the Chinese Center for Research and Conservation of the Giant Panda, we report on the use of footprints to monitor Giant panda in China.
Li, Binbin V., Sky Alibhai, Zoe Jewell, Desheng Li, and Hemin Zhang. 2018/2. “Using Footprints to Identify and Sex Giant Pandas.” Biological Conservation 218:83–90.
Calling puma conservationists! Monitoring the puma is challenging; they are shy and elusive. We’ve just published a new, non-invasive approach using footprint identification:
Alibhai S, Jewell Z, Evans J (2017) The challenge of monitoring elusive large carnivores: An accurate and cost-effective tool to identify and sex pumas (Puma concolor) from footprints. PLOS ONE 12(3): e0172065. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172065
We’re proud to be part of a new video documenting the wonderful work of the Pimm Lab at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University.
Here’s a snapshot of the different ways our group works to save species around the world.
Our new WildTrack T-shirts are here! Get FIT with our T-shirts or customise for other products. Sprint like a cheetah, charge like a rhino, or just chill like a panda! All profits to WildTrack. Now available on www.zazzle.com/WildTrack
FIT is being used to identify otters in collaboration with the Suffolk-based Stanny Field Centre in the UK (http://www.stannyfarm.org/Field/otterProj.html). This Centre recently hosted the first FIT otter workshop, taught by Frederick Kistner, an otter ecologist. It was a great success, and the first step towards monitoring the ongoing recovery of wild otters.
Participants engaging in a Q &A session with WildTrack.
We’ve always wanted to produce a detailed video showing would-be users, our field conservation colleagues, exactly how FIT works, step-by-step….
Now it’s here, thanks to JMP data visualization, and appropriately published in the world’s first peer-reviewed video journal, the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
Spotting Cheetahs: Identifying Individuals by their Footprints
It’s our job as conservationists to celebrate the Earth and all her inhabitants, but today is special. Our Earth Day blog is published by JMP software with a new WildTrack video.
Spotting the elusive cheetah: An Earth Day story