Contribute your photos to conserve biodiversity

Published: 21 July 2011

The Cape Leopard Trust and UCT's Animal Demography Unit are collaborating on an exciting new project in which you can take part. We are developing a Virtual Museum for Mammals (VIMMA), a website where the public can contribute photos of mammal species in southern Africa.

VIMMA consists of digital photographic records of mammals along with accurate geographical coordinates of where the pictures were taken. Register for a Virtual Museum (VM) account and start uploading your pictures (be it photos taken on a family holiday in a National Park, on a walk on Table Mountain, or a camera trap photo). As the saying goes - "a picture is worth a thousand words". Many animals have individually identifiable markings on their pelts, one can determine sex, activity patterns and sometimes record interesting behaviour from photos. So, by submitting your photos you will act as a citizen scientist!

VIMMA is limited to wild (or feral) mammals. So domestic animals are excluded, and so is Homo sapiens. Records for species which are abundant and in places where they are well-known to occur, such as Impala in the Kruger National Park, are superfluous. But the golden rule that applies is: If in doubt, submit.  Photos of spoor, dung/scats or other animal signs are also excluded.

Register at: http://vmus.adu.org.za/dt_registration.php You can also join the VIMMA facebook group where you can interact with other citizen scientists: http://www.facebook.com/groups/204298239617083

The ADU are running a "Biodiversity week" from Saturday 23 July to Sunday 31 July in celebration of their 20th anniversary this year. During this week they, together with all their citizen scientists, are aiming to collect and submit as much biodiversity data as possible. Please read more about it on the ADU website (www.adu.org.za ) and make an effort to submit photos during next week.

This is a simple way to support research and conservation of South Africa's mammals, from the comfort of your own home. Thanks for taking the time to read this e-mail. We hope to see a lot of new contributions to the VIMMA website!

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