Cambodia is one of the most biodiverse countries in South East Asia with many globally significant populations of mammals. The nocturnal and often shy habits of many species spanning large areas at low densities makes traditional surveying methods difficult. Camera traps have thus been a useful tool to monitor biodiversity and many have been set up by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Cambodia to gain insight into elusive species. A wealth of images and data have been captured over two decades providing a large resource of important biological information on species distribution and relative abundance for large and small mammals as well as birds.
This project will galvanize the camera trap data initiated in 2001 and create an effective and appropriate system allowing access for future aggregate analysis and outreach. With multiple projects across many protected areas collecting a large number of images, data management is an important issue. Recently, 15,000 film-based camera trap images were digitized and indexed. The next phase of this work is the indexing of an estimated 75,000 digital camera trap images. Once completed, and with the full film and digital collection collated into an appropriate and dedicated system, this rich, long-term dataset can be used in an array of monitoring and ecological studies.
Conducted by WCS staff and supported by School for Field Studies (SFS) students, the data processing, indexing and standardization progressed well during the first half of the project, with more than 75,000 images processed, resulting in 16,500 standardized species occurrence records at mid-term reporting.
In the second half of the project, temporal coverage was expanded from 2001–2015 to include data from 2016–2018, and by the end of the project 295,285 images had been processed, resulting in 16,710 occurrence records, covering 79 specifies across four major landscapes being derived and published on GBIF. As of July 2019, the number of occurrence records had increased to 21,439.
This data will also be published on Wildlife Insights, the dedicated camera trap data management solution identified to collate and centralize the collection of data, which is now planned for release following completion of the project.
In addition to the activities undertaken, the project team has raised within WCS Cambodia the conversation of data publishing outside of camera trap data and making data more publically available. This capacity has subsequently supported other and wider discussions.
Moving forward the next steps for the project are the adoption of the Wildlife Insights and staff training in its usage. Additional occurrence records are also expected to be derived using Wildlife Insights, and through location data and other missing data from older records.