Tracking Cats – Every Picture Tells a Story

Tracking Cats Every Picture Tells a Story

Ambience: Tiger Roar
With the help of remote cameras, scientists are able to get a close up look at big cats in the wild, and estimate their population. But that’s not the only story the photographs tell. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Kelly: Other things that we are learning are things like – do these animals have a breeding season?

Marcella Kelly is a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.

Kelly: We do get cubs in the photographs and then you can follow those cubs all the way up through their life and see if they leave the study site or did they stay in it. You can tell if they are males or females most of the time, so we can get at sex ratios, birth rates or at least timing of births, number of cubs, things like that are really difficult information to get in the wild, because you just don’t observe these animals when you are out there, especially in forested environments.
The pictures tell interesting stories based on the study site. Some areas that I work are very well protected. Other areas are protected on paper, but there’s actually a lot of poaching. I think you can tell pretty quickly how healthy a cat population is, even within the first survey. So if you put out a bunch of remote cameras you should get cat pictures within a few days. And if you don’t and the longer and longer it takes, the more likely that that population is not doing very well.
When doing remote camera trapping you often have to worry about poachers coming in. Stealing cameras is a big issue. Sometimes if there’s a lot of poaching in an area you simply can’t even do remote camera work because they will steal all of the cameras. That’s another sign that things are not going very well. If you’re starting to lose cameras immediately then you’ve probably already lost a lot of the cats.

We’ll hear more about tracking big cats in future programs. You can hear previous programs on our podcast. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Tracking Cats - Every Picture Tells a Story

"You can follow those cubs all the way up through their life."
Air Date:03/24/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Tracking Cats Every Picture Tells a Story

Ambience: Tiger Roar
With the help of remote cameras, scientists are able to get a close up look at big cats in the wild, and estimate their population. But that's not the only story the photographs tell. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Kelly: Other things that we are learning are things like - do these animals have a breeding season?

Marcella Kelly is a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.

Kelly: We do get cubs in the photographs and then you can follow those cubs all the way up through their life and see if they leave the study site or did they stay in it. You can tell if they are males or females most of the time, so we can get at sex ratios, birth rates or at least timing of births, number of cubs, things like that are really difficult information to get in the wild, because you just don't observe these animals when you are out there, especially in forested environments.
The pictures tell interesting stories based on the study site. Some areas that I work are very well protected. Other areas are protected on paper, but there's actually a lot of poaching. I think you can tell pretty quickly how healthy a cat population is, even within the first survey. So if you put out a bunch of remote cameras you should get cat pictures within a few days. And if you don't and the longer and longer it takes, the more likely that that population is not doing very well.
When doing remote camera trapping you often have to worry about poachers coming in. Stealing cameras is a big issue. Sometimes if there's a lot of poaching in an area you simply can't even do remote camera work because they will steal all of the cameras. That's another sign that things are not going very well. If you're starting to lose cameras immediately then you've probably already lost a lot of the cats.

We'll hear more about tracking big cats in future programs. You can hear previous programs on our podcast. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.