Project Wildcamera: Zoogdieren in de achtertuin

“Urban greenspaces are used by plenty wildlife, including secretive mammals that come out at night when nobody is watching, if it weren’t for the camera traps of the Wildcamera project.” (Patrick Jansen)

A snapshot of the project

Wild mammals have evolved in natural habitats, which however get ever scarcer as humans modify natural landscapes for agriculture and urbanization. A central question is how wildlife adapts to the novel habitats that people create, such as cities, and how these environments can be made more wildlife friendly.

The aims of the Wildcamera project are, therefore, to work with garden owners to understand which factors govern the occurrence of wildlife in urban environments, how wildlife adapts to urban environments, how they interact with domestic animals, and how urban wildlife can be enhanced by urban greening.

In this citizen science project, volunteers survey wildlife in private gardens and parks located along gradients of urbanization in Dutch and Flemish municipalities. Each location receives a motion-sensitive camera trap that photographs all wildlife activity during at least three weeks. A leaking can or sardines lures mammals towards the camera. The sampling includes gardens and parks that vary in a wide range of factors, from small to large, from green to paved, from isolated to connected, and from city centres to the countryside. They also vary in the presence of ponds, chicken pens or compost heaps, and the presence of fencing.

The results of the project

Over 1000 gardens and over 30 municipalities have already been sampled for this project. In the majority, the protocol for camera placement was strictly followed, and the camera worked during at least three weeks, meaning that the photographs contain useful data. The photographs are processed using the platform and archived for future reference and verification.

Besides data, the Wildcamera has educational value. Citizens and other participants gain insight in the use of their garden by wildlife, and learn about wildlife species and their needs, including secretive species that they sometimes did not know existed. The Mammal Society provides suggestions on how to make gardens mammal friendly, which some citizens may choose to follow up.