Camera traps automatically take pictures of anything that moves in front of the camera lens. This means that they can be set up on a tree in the forest for weeks and months at a time, and be taking photos without the need for a human to operate the camera. We set up cameras in preferred bongo habitat – watering spots, natural salt licks, and game trails – and document any individuals that we find in front of the camera.
We try to identify the bongos that our traps capture in pictures. We can determine if it is an adult animal or a youngster; we can determine if it is a male or a female, and sometimes we can study the features of the animal and be able to individually identify it. Many more times however, we cannot do this – some of our photos are taken at night, and many are taken from different angles – so often we dont know too much at all about the animals that we see in our camera traps.
We use handheld gps units to document locations of bongo footprints, droppings, scratching posts, and more. We also document all illegal activities that we find and we plot all of these things on forest maps to help us to create a picture of what is happening and where it is happening. By mapping the bongo signs from camera traps and from footprints etc., we can determine ranging patterns and preferred habitats..