Hundreds of camera-traps spread across southern and eastern Africa are providing a powerful new window into the dynamics of Africa's most elusive wildlife species
In response to the urgent need for accurate assessment of wildlife populations, SnapshotSafari is an unprecedented collaborative network of camera-trap grids in wildlife parks and reserves throughout Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with sites from Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda coming online soon. SnapshotSafari relies on online volunteers (“citizen scientists”) to classify thousands of images of wildlife photographed by cameras uniformly dispersed throughout each protected area, providing a glimpse into the lives of endangered species and the distribution of wildlife across many landscapes. With the help of accurate camera-trap censuses, we will be able to identify which sites are being managed most successfully - and, hence, which conservation strategies should be incorporated into the toolbox for effective wildlife management.
How you can help
With over 40 partners and more showing interest after our official launch, SnapshotSafari has a lot of ground to cover. Many parks and reserves that would like to establish a camera-trap grid for monitoring their wildlife populations lack funding, or they do not have sufficient funding to maintain a camera trap grid for several years.
By donating to the UMN Lion Center, you can support the installation and maintenance of camera-trap grids in unfunded locations. By becoming a part of the SnapshotSafari network, these reserves gain the opportunity to collaborate with other parks and reserves and utilize the wealth of data collected from other sites to better understand their wildlife populations and best practices in conservation.
What will my donation be used for?
Many sites require financial assistance to purchase equipment. Donations help cover the cost of installing infrared cameras and their associated supplies, (memory cards, rechargeable batteries, hard drives, safety cases, etc.). In addition, this will support the development of a specific webpage within the SnapshotSafari citizen science platform, so users can classify the photos collected from that site and learn more about the site’s unique features, staff, and conservation efforts. A small portion of this amount goes to data management and storage fees for use of the Zooniverse.org platform and the Minneapolis Supercomputing Institute (MSI), as well as salary support for our skilled team of researchers at the UMN Lion Center who handle all of the data uploads, provide summary reports to the participating reserves, and conduct our own research on predator-prey dynamics, trophic cascades, and the spatiotemporal distribution of wildlife in response to environmental perturbations.
Your contribution may also be used to help maintain existing grids, as cameras are occasionally lost due to wildfires, theft, and tampering by wildlife. Baboons, elephants, and hyenas are especially likely to investigate and move our cameras when their curiosity is piqued!
Our prior project, Snapshot Serengeti, recruited over 165,000 volunteer citizen scientists from 140 countries, who analyzed 10 million photos with 97% accuracy. This data has and continues to be used in scientific publications that contribute to our understanding of wildlife population dynamics and management techniques. Not only will our new project involve many more cameras in a wider variety of habitat, but SnapshotSafari will directly address important challenges in conservation, for lions and many other species.
Participating reserves generate 50,000+ photographs annually, which will engage tens of thousands of citizen science volunteers interested in learning about African mammals and their behavior and ecology. We have developed teaching modules for undergraduate courses in American universities using the data collected by Snapshot Serengeti, and have recently formed a partnership with Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the development of educational materials for middle and high school level courses using the data from SnapshotSafari. Once completed, these materials will be made publically available for use in classrooms around the world at www.hhmi/org/biointeractive and translated into several African languages for use in African classrooms.