Conservation & Research
Revealed: the secretive world of rainforest animals

Ever wondered what goes on in the jungle when no-one’s looking? Innovative research through camera traps gives a rare glimpse and unique access to life in the rainforest canopy.

 

Last summer, our Tree Top Manu expedition team set up 131 camera traps across the Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest – an area the size of Wales that boasts the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Today, the results are in...

 

Watch: Rainforest Life, Live

 

 

Tree Top Manu is the largest-scale canopy monitoring project in the world, led by the Crees Foundation in collaboration with University of Glasgow, National Geographic and the Darwin Initiative.

 

The project leader, Dr Andrew Whitworth (and colleagues), recently published a paper entitled Out on a limb: Arboreal camera traps as an emerging methodology for inventorying elusive rainforest mammals. It demonstrates how placing camera traps in the canopy, as well as at mid storey and ground level, can shine a light on some of the most charismatic and threatened species in the world.

 

The aim is to answer questions about the behaviour and ecology of rare and elusive species in way that traditional survey methods cannot, while better understanding the biodiversity and conservation value of different forest types.

 

Rare wildlife footage

The camera traps have a enabled us to capture exciting footage of secretive rainforest wildlife. This year’s best rare sighting was a video of a pacarana (Dinomys branickii).

 

 

It was filmed by our cameras in our nature reserve – before now, nobody new that pacarana existed here. Imagine, after over 10 years of scientists carrying out research at our reserve, we are still finding new mammal species to the reserve.

 

This validates the camera traps as an important research methodology, helping us answer questions about the behaviour and ecology of rare and elusive species in a way that traditional survey methods cannot.

 

“It’s unbelievably difficult to monitor rainforest mammals using traditional methods”, explained Dr Andrew Whitworth. “People have been using camera traps for years now, a couple of decades, to monitor terrestrial species because they’re really secretive. So why not use them for the arboreal ones? We’ve just decided to ignore them.”

 

Camera traps in the canopy can shine a light on some of the most charismatic and threatened species in the world. Without them, some secretive and cryptic mammals risk remaining largely unknown and could quietly disappear from our planet.

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