Amongst the variety of things that are included in my daily routine, one of them are camera traps – movement sensitive and remotely triggered cameras that snap a photo every time something walk past its sensor. These types of cameras are widely used to study a range of cryptic creatures (a very fancy word used to described animals that are waaay to hard to see) all over the world and have an incredible value in conservation, as they can shed a light into the unknown masters that roam around.
For me, it was just fun. Whenever the memory cards would arrive, it felt like Christmas. Opening a little memory card of unknown goodies. Every beautiful photo that captured an intimate moment of wildlife made the 150 photos of grass moving in the wind worth it. Now, my boss who was already going senile at that time, liked to engrave in us that this weekly task had a conservation purpose it was not the case, but I enjoyed every minute of it. A little glimpse into someone else’s life.
These cameras I had to handle where hidden in selected spots, inside hyena proof metal boxes, close to different waterholes.
Perfect exposure, beautiful subject and in addition, an emotional charge that is hard to put into words. A feeling that is born every time you see something mesmerising when first come across a specific photograph.
The downfall to these cameras is that, depending on their sensitivity they can capture all movements. And by all I mean the most annoying one of them all: the moving grass. After seeing the first 1000 of them, you develop an ability to scan quickly through the photographs to see what needs to be seen, and count what needs to be counted.
“Next to the elephant. No, a little more to the right, lower. There!”
“Oh I see the hippo now!”
The best part? Some animals become regulars and I learned to recognise them instantly. My best friend is the one and a half horned waterbuck (ok fine, he was an easy one to befriend). I’m in love with all the elephants and giraffes drinking water crack me up.
When I go through this endless array of photos, there are different folders where a selected group of celebrities is categorised under. By celebrities I mean the infamous big 5 (a term I will eventually come to hate) such as rhinos, leopards, elephants, lions and buffalo, and other popular faces like giraffes, hyenas and some shier subjects like badgers, genets and so son.
Little did I know that this passion for camera traps would one day lead to get a masters degree in Conservation Science. I suppose you can only connect the dots looking back right?