Camera traps, devices used to capture wildlife using motion sensors, are saving the animals from bushmeat hunters and spotting rare animals in the process.
In the West African country of Togo, researchers were able to see images of the Walter’s duiker, a petite African antelope species, for the first time in the wild, according to Gizmodo.
Rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose were also discovered roaming the wild in Togo using camera traps.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze told Gizmodo. “I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species. Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
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For bushmeat hunters, who specialize in gathering wildlife in rural communities, their services, considered illegal and an unsustainable over-hunting practice, are no longer needed for biologists to gather information. Some bushmeat hunters would kill rare animals to sell their rare carcasses to market.
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when bushmeat specimens were compared to other known duiker specimens. However, recent images of the Walter’s duiker are the first scientists have ever seen. Few and far between, some rare species do not make the endangered listing because of the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as “data-deficient.”
The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, a Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford in England, also known as WildCRU, is trying to make a difference.
“This graceful antelope has, for the last 200 years, displayed a great talent for avoiding scientists, but proven tragically less adept at avoiding nets, snares and hunting dogs,” zoologist at the University of Oxford David Macdonald said. “Plotting their whereabouts in bushmeat markets is roughly analogous to plotting the habits of deer in the UK by mapping their occurrence on butchers’ slabs.”
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