Citizen science – (Camera) trap fishing cats and other urban wildlife!

I frequently get emails from people who are interested in seeing how they can help with the project, and one of the most fun ways to do so is by engaging in citizen science. Citizen science is science that’s conducted by people who are not full-time scientists, and is hugely important for small conversation projects like ours. The concept is gaining popularity worldwide, and we would love to see more Sri Lankans become citizen scientists!

If you’re interested in fishing cats or urban wildlife, and happen to live in or around Colombo, one of the best ways to get started with citizen science is by using a camera trap to record outdoor activity in your home or workplace.

Enter the camera trap.

A camera trap is basically a camera that is triggered by movement. Unlike a traditional trap, it does not harm animals. All it does is capture a still photograph or video if it detects movement. If you’d like to set one up in your garden, here are some options for you.

📷 Buy a camera trap

If your birthday money or Christmas bonus is burning a hole in your pocket, there are lots of great camera traps that you can buy in the $100 range. Though you can’t currently purchase them in Sri Lanka, they are widely available in North America, Europe, and even closer to home, in Singapore. Here’s a great camera trap buyer’s guide for 2016 – 2017!

🔌 Assemble a camera trap

If you’d like to assemble your own camera trap, and learn something while you do, the Naturebytes camera trap is a great alternative to an outright purchase. Though we haven’t used it for the project, all reviews so far indicate that it’s a fantastic project for all ages, and any wildlife enthusiast is sure to have a lot of fun with it.

🛠 Build a camera trap

For the more technically inclined citizen scientist (or those willing to learn!), building a camera trap from scratch using a Raspberry Pi may be well worth their time. Basically a tiny (and very cheap!) computer, the Raspberry Pi, as well as most sensors required to build a camera trap (such as an Infra Red sensor) are available in Sri Lanka via stores like Lankatronics. The RPI community is huge, and there are lots of great videos online about how to make things with it. Here’s one camera trap howto video:

If you do end up buying, assembling or building a camera trap, and putting it out in your home garden or workplace, please let us know on Facebook, or by posting below, so we can share your citizen science with your fellow citizen scientists!

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