Cameras for Conservation Capture 1,000,000 Photos

If one photo is worth a thousand words, what are one million photos worth? Ecologists, working as part of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network, are beginning to get a clear answer to that question, through the use of remote camera traps used to monitor biodiversity in 16 protected areas across 14 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. This could have important consequences for the future of biodiversity, conservation and people.
African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana)

African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. Photography by WCS-TEAM Nouabale Ndoki. Copyright: TEAM Network.


The global partnership that monitors change in tropical forest ecosystems, biomass, rainfall, and species diversity reports today that its multitude of remote camera traps has captured its one millionth photograph. The photographs captured by the TEAM Network provide real-time information on how unseen animal populations are being affected by changes in climate, habitat and land use; changes that often affect the flow of goods and life-sustaining services to people as well as the health of tropical forests.

chimpanzee in Nouabale Ndoki National Park

Pan troglodytes from TEAM’s site in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. Copyright: TEAM Network.


The TEAM Network, which acts like an early warning system for nature, has monitored changes in tropical forests for ten years, using standardized methods to collect data on trees, mammals, the climate, woody vines known as ‘lianas’, and birds that are found in the Network’s study area, which covers 16 protected areas in 14 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.  After five years of monitoring bird and mammal biodiversity with camera traps, the millionth photograph, of an elusive jaguar, was captured in Manu National Park, Peru.

Jaguagr caigt on camera, Conservation International

Jaguar (Panthera onca) from TEAM’s Cocha Cashu site in Manu National Park, Peru. Copyright: TEAM Network.


“The one-millionth image is an amazing representation of our camera trap work, and it symbolizes the success we have had with this program in collecting new data,” said Dr. Jorge Ahumada, TEAM’s Technical Director. “As we celebrate this accomplishment, we are also at a critical point in beginning to provide information to decision makers from the local to global level on how biodiversity is affected by climate change and habitat loss.”

 Working through local partner institutions, TEAM site managers and technicians set up the camera traps during the dry season. Cameras are placed in a grid throughout the forest every two square kilometers – over an area the equivalent of the distance between downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills – and left in the forest for thirty days. Each site collects between 10,000 and 30,000 photographs per year.

TEAM Network: Badru’s Story from Benjamin Drummond / Sara Steele on VimeoEach year Badru Mugerwa sets 60 camera traps in the rugged forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. His work is part of Conservation International’s TEAM Network, a global web of field stations that provide an early warning system for loss of biodiversity in tropical forests. Badru and his fellow TEAM scientists have collected over one million images of mammals and birds to help guide conservation efforts.

“Conservation is not usually about setting records, but there are times when the scale of an achievement can be measured in the millions,” said Dr. Joshua Ginsberg, Senior Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society, one of TEAM’s partner institutions. “One million pictures allow us to develop and test global indicators that are critical to measuring the success of global conservation and informing the global community on the increasingly perilous state of the world’s biodiversity.”

 The TEAM Network is a partnership between Conservation International, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society and is implemented through over 80 local partner institutions.  TEAM is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, and by support from other donors and the partner institutions.

Currently, the TEAM Network is collaborating with the Species Survival Commission at the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to integrate camera trap data into their Global Mammal and Bird Assessments.  TEAM also recently joined the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership to provide new indicators to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

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One Response to “Cameras for Conservation Capture 1,000,000 Photos”

  1. eticaret February 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    I seriously delight in your posts. Many thanks

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