The Photographer of Mauthausen, film reviews

This 28 February 2019 video says about itself:

The Photographer of Mauthausen, Netflix Review

I hope you enjoy my review of the fantastic Photographer of Mauthausen. It’s a true story.

By Benjamin Mateus:

Documenting Nazi crimes in a wartime concentration camp

28 August 2019

Directed by Mar Targarona; written by Roger Danès and Alfred Pérez Fargas

The Photographer of Mauthausen, available at Netflix, is a Spanish film by Mar Targarona, an actor-producer turned director. It is based on the story of Francesc Boix (played by Mario Casas), a left-wing Catalan militant held at the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Mauthausen and its subcamps formed one of the largest slave-labor complexes in German-controlled Europe. Home to “incorrigible” political prisoners and others, hundreds of thousands died there.

Many left-wing Spaniards who fled to France following the victory of fascist forces in the civil war (1936-39) were captured by German forces after the fall of France in 1940 or handed over by the Vichy authorities.

Or handed over by Hitler’s Gestapo to the Franco dictatorship in Spain, to be killed.

Boix (born 1920), who had joined the French Army, fell into German hands and was sent to Mauthausen in 1941, where he remained until its liberation in May 1945. Because of his reputation as an amateur photographer, he became an assistant in the laboratory to SS officer Paul Ricken (Richard Van Weyden). The Nazis were fastidious in their photographic documentation of day-to-day life in these camps, including important visits by such officials as Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer.

In the course of his internment, according to The Photographer of Mauthausen, Boix was able to hide and smuggle out over 2,000 negatives documenting the systematic terror and crimes committed by the Nazi SS. These photos played a crucial role in prosecuting certain high-ranking officers at the Nuremberg trials.

Director Targarona’s motivation for making the film stemmed from her interest in the period “and in particular Nazism, which never ceases to astonish me.” The story of a Spanish prisoner of war seemed especially compelling. A book by Benito Bermejo, The Photographer of Horror (2002), was the basis for the film. Bermejo also collaborated closely with Targarona and her team on the writing and shooting of the film. The events depicted and the characters portrayed, as the director tells Variety, are “composites of life at Mauthausen”. We will return to this issue, which may have some importance.

Mario Casas and Richard van Weyden in The Photographer of Mauthausen

Rather than providing a broader portrait of Boix—barely 20 years old when he arrived in the camp and already a seasoned fighter in the Spanish Civil war—and his life, Targarona confines her subtle but complex narrative predominately to the young man’s experiences at Mauthausen. She relies, rightly or wrongly, on the viewer’s knowledge of the period to provide the missing context. The initial titles and sparse first-person narration by Boix and dialogue provide the historical links to the haunting images.

Intentionally, Targarona has avoided grainy, documentary-style effects and shaky images intended to provide a sense of being in the moment. According to the filmmaker, “From the start, I wanted cinematography of great quality. I can’t stand the idea that relates making a historical film and automatically adding grain and killing the color.” Certainly, her approach offers a more intimate frame of reference.

The film opens to blurred images with subdued colors that come into focus. They are men of various states of health and ages marching through the camp’s ominous gates. The kapos take charge. The prisoners’ possessions are confiscated, they are undressed and their heads shaved. They are marched out into the cold where they stand naked in formation.

SS officer Ricken, positions his camera and photographs them. The supreme commandant of Mauthausen, Franz Ziereis (Stefan Weinert), arrives to look over the prisoners. The old, maimed and feeble are pulled out of formation and directed to a van and driven away. A distraught boy named Anselmo (Adrià Salazar) watches his father taken, while the latter motions his son to remain still.

We are then introduced to Boix as he prepares an intake headshot photo of Anselmo wearing his new prison uniform. He consoles the young boy, assuring him his father is safe at the infirmary at the Gusen camp. When Anselmo leaves, Valbuena (played by Alain Hernández), head assistant in the photographic laboratory, chides Boix for lying to the boy.

The drama in The Photographer of Mauthausen proceeds episodically, a mosaic of events that encompass four years, without identifying a specific chronology. The repetition of narrative threads that depict the everyday struggles for survival help tie the scenes structurally, while working formally to draw the narrative forward.

The initial exchange between Boix and Ricken sets into motion the film’s development as a polemic on the nature of art and objectivity. After Boix explains to Ricken how he became a photographer, Ricken looks over his work and says, “You can make it better. You must learn to paint with light.” Boix replies, “That’s cheating.” Ricken counters that art, like the experience of reality, is purely subjective and a matter of interpretation.

We witness the cover-up of senseless killings committed by SS officers that are staged as escapes and photographed for the official records. In a gruesome scene, Boix and Ricken travel by car to the outskirts of the camp. There are several corpses lying in the snow. They were allegedly shot attempting to escape. While Boix sets up the camera lights and positions the bodies, he whispers to Fonesca (Eduard Buch), who oversees the identification services, that these men were executed. One of them is Anselmo’s father.

While working in the photo lab, Boix soon comes across a file filled with negatives. Sifting through these, he discovers they are images of piles of bodies lying upon one another. Disturbed by his findings of the Nazis’ systematic mass killings, he instinctively hides the negatives in the back of a drawer in a filing cabinet.

In the film’s transitional moment, Boix meets up with other prisoners in the back of the barracks. They are listening to a war broadcast on amateur radio. They find out that the Germans have lost the Battle of Stalingrad (early February 1943). Though cautiously elated by the magnitude of the news, the men also learn that Ziereis has ordered the destruction of all the negatives and prints in the photo lab.

Francesc Boix is on the far left with a camera hanging around his neck. Photograph by Donald R. Ornitz

Boix convinces his comrades that they must preserve these as evidence; otherwise, no one will ever believe the horrors the Nazi have committed. The film’s tempo begins to shift creating a sense of purposeful urgency and camaraderie. There is a coordinated effort by these men working in concert to hide and smuggle out these photographs. The magnitude of this endeavor finds its succinct expression near the film’s conclusion.

The prisoners are turned out of the barracks and lined up. Ziereis, blaring into a microphone, berates and threatens them about any future escape attempts. Parodying an earlier moment when the Spanish prisoners staged a variety show to divert the guards’ attention during an escape, the prisoners are forced to watch a procession of musicians lead their comrade, who has been visibly tortured, toward makeshift gallows.

Ricken stands ready with his camera to capture the moment. A noose is placed around the prisoner’s neck, and the stool he is standing on is kicked out from him. As he begins to swing, the rope breaks and he falls to the ground gasping. Ziereis, visibly irritated, has the band resume playing. The kapos help the prisoner up, place a sturdier noose around his neck and this time the work is done. Then, in a touching moment, using deep focus, the camera pans over the shoulder of the swaying man at the faces of each prisoner as he files by looking on with anguish and pain. The scene assumes a poignantly documentary reality.

The Photographer of Mauthausen treats the liberation of the camp and the fate of Ricken, Boix and the hidden photographs. The film’s credits proceed to show the actual prints of scenes re-enacted in the film. The final segment shows us the real Francesc Boix being asked to identify one of the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials.

Targarona’s film is a cohesively artistic work emphasizing the importance of preserving historical truth. These factors should be strongly applauded and encouraged. However, various elements remain underdeveloped. The reference to the Communists in the film as sympathetic protagonists is to be acknowledged, but there is little to enlighten viewers about the nature of the various political relationships under such complex and physically unbearable conditions. The mix of left-wing elements included anarchist and bourgeois Republicans who had significant political differences.

There is also little in The Photographer of Mauthausen to explain the Nazis’ inhumanity. It is easy to be horrified but more difficult to understand the source of such cruelty. The only reference to the socioeconomic underpinnings of fascism has to be extrapolated from a violent episode in which the SS officers and their families gather for a gala at a chateau belonging to Poschacher (Rainer Reiners), a man who owns a nearby quarry and uses slave laborers from Mauthausen.

Understandably, historical complexities impose certain limitation on such works.


Dragonflies and young house martins

Naardermeer marsh plants, 19 August 2019

On 19 August 2019, we went to the Naardermeer nature reserve.

Near the entrance, barn swallows flying. A great crested grebe swimming.

We see construction activity. Wildlife corridors are built underneath the railway; to save lives of grass snakes, moor frogs, otters, pine martens, etc.

On the footpath to the Muggenbult viewpoint, a male black-tailed skimmer dragonfly.

A grey heron.

Naardermeer marsh plants, near dragonfly, 19 August 2019

Along this bit of marsh, a beautiful green and blue dragonfly flies. An emperor dragonfly?

Naardermeer, on 19 August 2019

Naardermeer, 19 August 2019

Rowan berries.

On the footpath, a smallish red dragonfly.

A great cormorant flying.

Naardermeer, Muggenbult, 19 August 2019

As we arrive at the Muggenbult viewpoint, a coot couple and their chick swimming.

A male gadwall duck.

White and yellow water-lily flowers.

Two adult mute swans swimming with one youngster.

Naardermeer mute swan, 19 August 2019

A great crested grebe with two youngsters.

We walk back. On the visitors’ centre buildings, house martin nests, both artificial and built by the birds themselves. To both, parent house martins fly to feed their chicks.

Naardermeer, sundew, 19 August 2019

Close to entrance/exit of the nature reserve is a patch with carnivorous plants: sundew.

Extinct Bahamas caracaras, new DNA research

This 2017 video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

The gods of birding and photography were with me on this day. I stopped to capture some shots of a Crested Caracara Family feeding on a carcass in an open field. They were soon in competition with a Vulture and then a Bald Eagle. It was amazing to witness.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History:

Extinct Caribbean bird yields DNA after 2,500 years in watery grave

August 15, 2019

Scientists have recovered the first genetic data from an extinct bird in the Caribbean, thanks to the remarkably preserved bones of a Creighton’s caracara from a flooded sinkhole on Great Abaco Island.

Studies of ancient DNA from tropical birds have faced two formidable obstacles. Organic material quickly degrades when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. And birds’ lightweight, hollow bones break easily, accelerating the decay of the DNA within.

But the dark, oxygen-free depths of a 100-foot blue hole known as Sawmill Sink provided ideal preservation conditions for the bones of Caracara creightoni, a species of large carrion-eating falcon that disappeared soon after humans arrived in the Bahamas about 1,000 years ago.

Florida Museum of Natural History postdoctoral researcher Jessica Oswald extracted and sequenced genetic material from a 2,500-year-old C. creightoni femur from the blue hole. Because ancient DNA is often fragmented or missing, Oswald had modest expectations for what she would find — maybe one or two genes. But instead, the bone yielded 98.7% of the bird’s mitochondrial genome, the set of DNA that most living things inherit only from their mothers.

“I was super excited. I would have been happy to get that amount of coverage from a fresh specimen,” said Oswald, lead author of a study describing the work and also a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Getting DNA from an extinct bird in the tropics is significant because it hasn’t been successful in many cases or even tried.”

The mitochondrial genome showed that C. creightoni is closely related to the two remaining caracara species alive today: the crested caracara, Caracara cheriway, and the southern caracara, Caracara plancus. The three species last shared a common ancestor between 1.2 and 0.4 million years ago.

At least six species of caracara once cleaned carcasses and picked off small prey in the Caribbean. But the retreat of glaciers 15,000 years ago and the resulting rise in sea levels triggered extinctions of many birds, said David Steadman, Florida Museum curator of ornithology.

C. creightoni managed to survive the sweeping climatic changes, but the arrival of people on the islands ultimately heralded the species’ demise, as the tortoises, crocodiles, iguanas and rodents that the caracara depended on for food swiftly disappeared.

“This species would still be flying around if it weren’t for humans,” Steadman said. “We’re using ancient DNA to study what should be modern biodiversity.”

Today, the islands host only a fraction of the wildlife that once flourished in the scrubland, forests and water. But blue holes like Sawmill Sink can offer a portal into the past. Researchers have collected more than 10,000 fossils from the sinkhole, representing nearly 100 species, including crocodiles, tortoises, iguanas, snakes, bats and more than 60 species of birds.

Sawmill Sink’s rich store of fossils was discovered by cave diver Brian Kakuk in 2005 in his quest for horizontal passages in the limestone. The hole was not a popular diving spot: Thirty feet below the surface lay a 20-foot-thick layer of saturated hydrogen sulfide, an opaque mass that not only smells of rotten egg, but also reacts with the freshwater above it to form sulfuric acid, which causes severe chemical burns.

After multiple attempts, Kakuk, outfitted with a rebreather system and extra skin protection, punched through the hydrogen sulfide. His lamp lit up dozens of skulls and bones on the blue hole’s floor.

Soon after, Kakuk and fellow cave diver Nancy Albury began an organized diving program in Sawmill Sink.

“This was found by someone who recognized what it was and never moved anything until it was all done right,” Steadman said.

Though the hydrogen sulfide layer presented a foul problem for divers, it provided excellent insulation for the fossils below, blocking UV light and oxygen from reaching the lower layer of water. Among the crocodile skulls and tortoise shells were the C. creightoni bones, including an intact skull.

“For birds, having an entire head of an extinct species from a fossil site is pretty mind-blowing,” Oswald said. “Because all the material from the blue hole is beautifully preserved, we thought at least some DNA would probably be there.”

Since 2017, Oswald has been revitalizing the museum’s ancient DNA laboratory, testing methods and developing best practices for extracting and analyzing DNA from fossils and objects that are hundreds to millions of years old.

Ancient DNA is a challenging medium because it’s in the process of degradation. Sometimes only a minute quantity of an animal’s original DNA — or no DNA at all — remains after bacteria, fungi, light, oxygen, heat and other environmental factors have broken down an organism.

“With ancient DNA, you take what you can get and see what works,” Oswald said. “Every bone has been subjected to slightly different conditions, even relative to other ones from the same site.”

To maximize her chance of salvaging genetic material, Oswald cleans a bone, freezes it with liquid nitrogen and then pulverizes it into powder with a rubber mallet.

“It’s pretty fun,” she said.

While previous studies required large amounts of bone, Oswald’s caracara work showed ancient DNA could be successfully recovered at a smaller scale.

“This puts an exclamation point on what’s possible with ancient DNA,” said Robert Guralnick, Florida Museum curator of bioinformatics. “We have new techniques for looking at the context of evolution and extinction. Beyond the caracara, it’s cool that we have an ancient DNA lab that’s going to deliver ways to look at questions not only from the paleontological perspective, but also at the beginnings of a human-dominated planet.”

Steadman, who has spent decades researching modern and extinct biodiversity in the Caribbean, said some questions can only be answered with ancient DNA.

“By understanding species that weren’t able to withstand human presence, it helps us better appreciate what we have left — and not just appreciate it, but understand that when these species evolved, there were a lot more things running and flying around than we have today.”

Other co-authors are Julia Allen of the University of Nevada, Reno; Kelsey Witt of the University of California, Merced; Ryan Folk of the Florida Museum and Nancy Albury of the National Museum of the Bahamas.

Facebook censors photography museum

At the Inland Sea, Japan, by Ed van der Elsken

This 1960 photo is At the Inland Sea, Japan, by famous Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken. It used to be on the Facebook page of the Dutch photography museum. Until Facebook censored it; along with all photos of the museum. One of many cases of Facebook censorship: from a photo showing Vietnamese children burnt by United States napalm to whistleblowing on war crimes to criticism of Donald Trump’s xenophobia. Meanwhile, the Dutch Hitler-worshiping nazis of the Nederlandse Volks-Unie are welcome on Facebook.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad today:

Photo museum: Facebook page offline due to nude photo by Van der Elsken

A photo by Ed van der Elsken is supposedly offensive according to the social network. They then took the entire page of the museum offline.

By Chris Koenis

The Facebook page of the Dutch photo museum was taken offline by the social network on Wednesday. One of the works of the world-famous photographer Ed van der Elsken is said to be offensive and therefore contrary to the rules of Facebook. They prohibit the posting of “Naked Material or Sexually Tinted Content.”

That photo, entitled At the Inland Sea, Japan is part of the exhibition Lust for life in the Rotterdam museum. The photo was used on the museum’s Facebook page to promote that exhibition.

Museum director Birgit Donker is indignant about Facebook‘s action. “This is a beautiful work of art that is censored by Facebook. That is contrary to their own rules. ”When the museum discovered on Wednesday that the page was ‘grayed out’, the museum reported the matter, but received no response at first.

More and more art offline

Thursday morning, a Facebook spokesperson at last contacted the museum and the corporation said that it would reconsider the decision. Until then, the Facebook page is inaccessible. That Facebook message in which Van der Elsken’s photo could be seen was not placed as an advertisement but as a regular message, the museum says.

Facebook has taken artistic photos offline more often in the past. Last year, eg, the 17th-century painting of the Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens was removed because Christ -except for his loincloth- is depicted without clothes, just like the famous prehistoric fertility sculpture Venus of Willendorf.

Other social media also sometimes delete messages. Eg, the YouTube channel of the Alkmaar Regional Archive was taken offline in June because there were images from the Second World War on the channel.

YouTube is part of the Google corporation, which does much censorship. Not just at YouTube.

Facebook censors Dutch photographer Thijs Heslenfeld: here.

WHATSAPP IS RADICALIZING THE RIGHT IN BRAZIL Facebook famously bolstered Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 by serving as a force multiplier for wild rumors. But a different culprit (with the same corporate parent) propelled far-right authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro to victory in Brazil’s presidential election last year: WhatsApp. [HuffPost]

Lakenhal museum, reopening and photos

This 18 June 2019 video from Leiden in the Netherlands says about itself:

Museum De Lakenhal | A source of inspiration for everyone

Museum De Lakenhal will open its doors again on 20 June 2019. Following a thorough renovation and restoration, the museum is celebrating the return of the building to the public with a free opening festival from 20 to 23 June.

When the museum is reopened, the famous masterpieces such as ‘The Last Judgement’ (circa 1526-27) by Lucas van Leyden, ‘A Pedlar Selling Spectacles’ (circa 1624) by Rembrandt van Rijn and ‘Counter Composition VII’ (1924) by Theo van Doesburg will be on show in the old restored part of the museum, the ‘Laecken-Halle’. Two photo presentations are being exhibited in the new exhibition halls: still lifes of the restoration and expansion of the museum by Karin Borghouts and artist Marjan Teeuwen’s monumental Destroyed House (Leiden) projects.

This is a 2017-2019 time-lapse video of the reconstruction.

On 30 July 2019, we went to the re-opened museum.

In the first new exhibition hall, there was a seventeenth-century painting about how the Lakenhal looked then: not yet a museum, still a textile business building. But mostly photos by Karen Borghouts.

In this video, Belgian Ms Borghouts talks about how she made photos of the Lakenhal reconstruction from 2016 till 2019.

In the second new hall were photos by Marjan Teeuwen.

About destroyed houses in Amsterdam.

This video is about Marjan Teeuwen’s art about four buildings from about 1900 in Leiden, including a former porn shop, which had to be torn down for the new Lakenhal exhibition halls.

The third place of which Marjan Teeuwen photos showed destroyed buildings in this hall was Gaza.

This 1 January 2017 video says about itself:

Dutch artist Marjan Teeuwen used rubble to rebuild a house in the Gaza Strip. She transformed what was destroyed into an artistic installation.

This 2017 video is also about Ms Teeuwen’s work in Gaza.

Stay tuned, as there will be more on this blog on my Lakenhal visit!

Reef manta rays, photography helps

This video says about itself:

Reef Manta Rays Dancing Together || ViralHog

Occurred on March 31, 2019 / Oahu, Hawaii, USA

From the University of Queensland in Australia:

Citizen scientists offer ray of hope

July 31, 2019

Volunteer snorkelers and scuba divers have been helping capture images of reef manta rays to better protect the threatened species.

The University of Queensland initiative — Project Manta — relied on these citizen scientists to photograph or video individual reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) across Australia’s east coast.

UQ PhD candidate Asia Armstrong, who led the study, hopes the data will inform conservation planning and management along the coast.

Manta rays are a great ambassador species for conservation,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Everyone loves them, and they offer a wonderful platform for getting people involved in marine conservation, as people protect what they love.

“With Project Manta, we relied on the cameras and eyes of both trained researchers and volunteers, who helped us build a catalogue of more than 1300 individual reef manta rays, from in excess of 7000 sightings.”

Once images and videos were captured, they were analysed to isolate the distances individual rays were travelling.

“Manta rays have a unique spot pattern on their belly, which allows individuals to be identified from one another,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Each time an animal is photographed we record the date, time and location of the sighting, along with any additional information, like its sex, maturity status, injuries and behaviour.

“When a sighting is matched to an existing record we gain insights into the ray’s movements and population dynamics.”

The researchers were surprised to discover that individual rays had traveled from North Stradbroke Island to the wreck of SS Yongala, just south of Townsville, a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres.

“This is a record-breaking point-to-point movement for a reef manta ray, improving our understanding of the potential home range for this species,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Globally, reef manta rays are listed as vulnerable to extinction, so this information can help inform conservation planning internationally, particularly in regions where this species may be exposed to increased risks and threats.

“It’s important now to connect with regional research groups to enable us to compare catalogues, which may reveal longer distance movements than those we’ve discovered.

“So far, there haven’t been any records of cross-jurisdictional movements of this species — that is, movements between the waters of different countries — which is important to know for conservation planning.

“With the help of international researchers, along with passionate citizen scientists and conservationists, we can really improve the long-term chances for this incredible species.”

Photos can help Botswana wildlife conservation

This 2017 video is called Makadikgadi: Wild Animals Of Botswana | [Predators And Preys Documentary].

From ScienceDaily:

Tourist photographs are a cheap and effective way to survey wildlife

July 22, 2019

Tourists on safari can provide wildlife monitoring data comparable to traditional surveying methods, suggests research appearing July 22 in the journal Current Biology. The researchers analyzed 25,000 photographs from 26 tour groups to survey the population densities of five top predators (lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs) in northern Botswana, making it one of the first studies to use tourist photographic data for this purpose.

The idea came to lead author Kasim Rafiq after hours with his Land Rover grill-deep in an abandoned warthog burrow. Rafiq, then a Ph.D. candidate at Liverpool John Moores University, had been following the tracks of a one-eared leopard named Pavarotti that he’d been searching for for months.

“Eventually I got out of the hole and spoke with the safari guides who I met on the road nearby, and who were laughing,” says Rafiq, who is about to begin a Fulbright Fellowship to expand the project further at UC Santa Cruz. “They told me that they’d seen Pavarotti earlier that morning. At that point, I really began to appreciate the volume of information that the guides and tourists were collecting and how it was being lost.”

Traditionally, animal population surveys in Africa are done using one of three methods: camera traps, track surveys, and call-in stations. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Camera traps, for example, are particularly useful to understand the variety and densities of species in an area, but they also have an immense up-front cost with no guaranteed lifespan. “For one of my other projects, I had an elephant knock down one of the camera traps, and then lion cubs ran away with the camera. When I collected it, it just had holes in it,” Rafiq says.

To test whether tourist photographs could be used for wildlife surveying, the researchers provided participating tourists with small GPS trackers, originally designed for tracking pet cats. These allowed researchers to later tag the wildlife photographs with location data. The photographs were then filtered not only by the species identified, but also by the individual animal, for the top predators, and then analyzed using computer modeling to estimate densities.

Rafiq and his team manually identified animals by their coloration patterns or, in the case of lions, by their whisker spots. The tourist photograph method was carried out alongside camera trap, track, and call-in station surveys to compare the wildlife density estimates obtained from each and the costs to get this information.

“The results suggest that for certain species and within areas with wildlife tourism, tourist-contributed data can accomplish a similar goal as traditional surveying approaches but at a much lower cost, relative to some of these other methods,” says Rafiq.

For example, the tourist-photograph method was the only approach to identify cheetahs in the study area and provided density estimates for many of the other carnivore species that were largely comparable to those from the other methods. Most of the costs of the tourist photograph method were down to the manual processing of images. These are tasks that in the future could be outsourced to artificial intelligence to reduce survey costs further.

“If we could combine advances in artificial intelligence and automated image classification with a coordinated effort to collect images, perhaps by partnering with tour operators, we would have a real opportunity for continuous, rapid assessment of wildlife populations in high-value tourism areas,” he says.

This method of surveying animal populations is most applicable when studying the charismatic megafauna that tourists are usually interested in, and in areas with established tourism programs.

“There isn’t one silver bullet that will be useful in every situation,” Rafiq says. “Instead, as conservationists and researchers, we have a toolkit of different techniques that we can dip into depending on our project’s requirements and needs. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that citizen science is a powerful tool for conservation. This approach provides the opportunity to not only aid the monitoring of charismatic megafauna highly valued by society, but also has the potential to shape how we can meaningfully participate in conservation efforts.”