How wild apes react to camera traps

This November 2013 video says about itself:

Apes of East Africa

Tracking chimpanzees in Tanzania and mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

From the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany:

Wild African ape reactions to novel camera traps

African wild apes notice and often react to novel items in their environment

March 14, 2019

An international team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, analyzed video from remote camera-trap devices placed in ape-populated forests throughout Africa to see how wild apes would react to these unfamiliar objects. Responses varied by species, and even among individuals within the same species, but one thing was consistent throughout: the apes definitely noticed the cameras.

“Our goal was to see how chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas react to unfamiliar objects in the wild since novel object experiments are often used in comparative psychology research, and we wanted to know if there were any differences among the three great apes,” says Ammie Kalan, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “We were specifically surprised by the differences in reactions we observed between the chimps and bonobos. Since they’re sister species and share a lot of the same genetic makeup, we expected them to react similarly to the camera, but this wasn’t the case.”

“The chimpanzees were overall uninterested in the camera traps — they barely seemed to notice their presence and were generally unbothered by them,” Kalan says. “Yet the bonobos appeared to be much more troubled by camera traps; they were hesitant to approach and would actively keep their distance from them.”

Individuals within a species reacted differently to the cameras as well. For example, apes living in areas with more human activity, such as near research sites, can get desensitized to unfamiliar items and become indifferent toward such encounters in the future. However, another member of the same species who has had less exposure to strange or new items, might be more interested in them. The age of the ape plays a similar role. “Younger apes would explore the camera traps more by staring at them for longer periods of time,” Kalan says. “Like human children, they need to take in more information and learn about their environment. Being curious is one way of doing that.”

The range of responses shown by the apes, and the complex differences both between species and within a single species, demonstrates a need for scientists to consider how animals will respond to the presence of unfamiliar monitoring equipment in their natural habitats. “The within and between species variation in behavior towards the unfamiliar items might be problematic when trying to collect accurate monitoring data,” Kalan says. “To curb this effect, it would be worth having a familiarization period, where the wild animals can get used to the new items.”

Despite this potential complication, using camera traps to monitor populations of animals in the wild is still one of the most useful options. “Our knowledge tends to be limited by the number of groups or number of populations we’re able to study, but using monitoring technology like camera traps is an effective way of solving that problem,” Kalan says. “I think it’s really interesting from a behavioral flexibility perspective to consider how wild animals react to these new technologies. I would love for more researchers to investigate novelty responses while doing monitoring surveys.”


Botanical garden snowdrops, crocuses and birds

Snowdrops, 24 February 2019

After 23 February 2019 in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands, we went back there the next day, 24 February. And saw these snowdrops.

Sounds of magpie, greenfinch, ring-necked parakeet.

On a branch of a tree in the Japanese garden, a robin sits, singing.

Crocuses, 24 February 2019

Not far away, these crocuses.

A blackbird sings.

A carrion crow flies to a tree.

Crocuses and winter aconites, 24 February 2019

On the hill, close to the source of the stream, these crocuses; with winter aconites in the background.

Golden crocuses, 24 February 2019

Near the astronomical observatory, these white golden crocuses.

Golden crocuses, on 24 February 2019

Botanical garden flowers, birds, butterfly

Snowdrops, 23 February 2019

This 23 February 2019 photo shows snowdrops in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands.

On that day, we heard great spotted woodpecker, greenfinch, great tit and rose-ringed parakeet sounds there.

On the roof of the garden’s eighteenth century orangery, a herring gull. Growing up its wall, a Maule’s quince plant. Famous naturalist Von Siebold brought this plant, the oldest Maule’s quince in the Netherlands, from Japan in the nineteenth century.

Under the Gingko biloba tree, flowers of snowdrops and crocuses. And of giant butterbur: also a plant first brought here by Von Siebold.

The axolotls are no longer in their terrarium in the hothouse. Given away, as caring for them was too complex.

The giant Australian stick insects are still in the other hothouse, but difficult to spot. The inhabitants are still present in the two hothouse aquariums, one for small fish, the other one for bigger fish; but the signs naming the species are gone. As the species sometimes change, probably the new signs are not ready yet.

Yellow crocuses, 23 February 2019

Not far from the hothouses, these yellow crocuses; attracting honeybees.

Edgeworthia tomentosa, 23 February 2019

And these orangeish-yellow Edgeworthia tomentosa flowers; with a palm tree in the background.

Scores of jackdaws fly overhead, calling.

Purple crocus flowers, 23 February 2019

On the hill near the source of the stream, these purple crocuses, besides many winter aconite flowers.

Siberian squill, 23 February 2019

And these Siberian squill flowers.

In the canal, a swimming moorhen.

On a branch next to the canal, a female chaffinch.

In the pond, a juvenile grey heron tries to catch fish. Someone saw the first pondskater of the Netherlands in 2019 this week, but I don’t see any in the stream here yet.

Blue morpho, 23 February 2019

Finally, to the Victoria amazonica hothouse; where we saw this blue morpho butterfly from its non-blue side.

Stay tuned, as on 24 February, we went back to the botanical garden!

African black panther photographed, first in 110 years

This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

San Diego Zoo Global researchers have confirmed the presence of rare black leopards living in Laikipia County, Kenya. Sometimes called black panthers, the melanistic leopards were filmed in Lorok, Laikipia County, Kenya on remote cameras that were set up as part of a large-scale study aimed at understanding the population dynamics of leopards in Mpala and Loisaba Conservancies.

Black panthers were the inspiration for the Black Panther Party in the USA; and later for similar groups in, eg, Israel and Greece.

Unfortunately, I found out today that the site Moorbey’z Blog, with much posts on, eg, the Black Panthers, has been deleted.

This 10 February 2019 video says about itself:

My quest to photograph a melanistic African Leopard (Black Panther) using Camtraptions camera traps.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Black leopard photographed for the first time in over one hundred years

For the first time since 1909 a black leopard has been photographed. That happened in a Kenyan nature reserve. Researchers confirm in the African Journal of Ecology that it is the rare animal indeed.

The black leopard has special fur through melanism, the opposite of albinism. As a result, the pelt colours black during the day and other colours can be seen at night.

The British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas photographed the animal in the Kenyan Laikipia Wilderness Camp, where the animal was spotted several times. The photographer spoke with residents, followed the footprints and placed a camera with a motion sensor.

Dream come true

After a few days he saw the black leopard on his images. “I stared at the picture, a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness … the black leopard. I could not believe it and it took a few days before I realized that my dream had come true”, he writes on his website.

Zoologists also react enthusiastically to the photos. “We always heard about black leopards in this region and this is the first confirmed photo of it in more than a hundred years”, says researcher Nicholas Pilfold to USA Today. The only previous confirmed photo of a black leopard was taken in Ethiopia, in 1909.

According to Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today (translated):

The [black] female was spotted once in the presence of a fellow leopard with normal fur. The researchers suspect that this is possibly the mother of the dark individual.

Great gray shrike, wren and poetry

This is a 2007 Dutch video on the Oude Buisse Heide.

This video is the sequel.

After 23 January 2018 came 24 January. Our final full day at Oude Buisse Heide.

Early in the morning, again a nuthatch at the feeder.

Atelier, 24 January 2019

This photo shows the Oude Buisse Heide atelier building, where poetess Henriette Roland Holst wrote poems and her visual artist husband made his art.

Atelier, on 24 January 2019

This photo shows the atelier at a closer distance.

Richard Roland Holst, 24 January 2019

Inside the atelier there are these words by Henriette, commemorating her deceased husband Richard (Rik).

Henriette Roland Holst, 24 January 2019

And also these lines by Henriette Roland Holst about friendships.

Two stock doves sit on the roof of the Angora farm.

De Reten, 24 January 2019

We walk from the Oude Buisse Heide north to nature reserve De Reten; which became a nature reserve only recently.

Arriving at De Moeren woodland, we turn back.

Many roe deer footprints.

Just after passing the border between De Reten and Oude Buisse Heide, a great grey shrike sits on a treetop.

De Reten-Oude Buisse Heide border, 24 January 2019

A bit further, a wren.

This was our last Oude Buisse Heide day. We will not forget it!

Goldcrest, grey heron, roe deer, poetry, snow

This video about the Oude Buisse Heide is from September 2013, when the heather flowered.

Still 23 January 2019 at Oude Buisse Heide nature reserve.

After 22 January 2019 came our 23 January 2019 walk.

We walked again through the snow along the poetry footpath; signs with poems by Henriette Roland Holst besides it.

A goldcrest flying from branch to branch.

This video says about itself:

A male goldcrest singing, you can tell it’s a male by the crown showing a deep orange flash when it is raised. The song is so high-pitched that some people find it difficult to hear, it’s also not easy to keep up with when filming this fast-moving little bird which is recognised as Britain’s smallest bird.

A grey heron stands on a snowy footpath.

Branches and snow, 23 January 2019

Also much snow on branches.

Leaves, 23 January 2019

Also still some leaves.

A jay flying.

Roe deer footprints in the snow.

Turfvaart, 23 January 2019

We continued to the Turfvaart. This canal used to be for transport of peat by boats.

Robin, 23 January 2019

This robin sat down on barbed wire near the Turfvaart.

Great tits, 23 January 2019

We were almost back at where we had started. Near the Angora farm were many feeders, which attracted great tits, blue tits and, below the feeders, robins and chaffinches.

Great tit female, 23 January 2019

Also near the atelier of Henriette Roland Holst and her visual artist husband there was a feeder, which attracted birds like this female great tit.

Great tit male, 23 January 2019

And this male great tit.

Robin, on 23 January 2019

And this robin.

Feeder, 23 January 2019

On this photo, a blue tit feeds, while two great tits await their turn.

Stay tuned for more from the Oude Buisse Heide!

Poetry, snow, blackbird of Oude Buisse Heide

Heideliedje, 22 January 2019

In my earlier blog post on walking in Oude Buisse Heide nature reserve, the last photo about the poetry path there showed a sign covered with snow. Which poem by Henriette Roland Holst was underneath the snow? After wiping, it turned out it was this poem.

Its title is Een heideliedje, a heathland song.

Ms Roland Holst wrote it in 1884, when she was only fifteen years old. It is about her joy at the Oude Buisse Heide, hearing skylark and bees sound.

On the right of the sign, photos of a blue butterfly and a brimstone butterfly, which one can see at this heathland (not now in winter).

We continued along the path.

Blackbird poem, 22 January 2019

The next poem was from 1949, when Henriette was much older, eighty years. It is about a blackbird: as soon as it begins to sing, the poetess’ sad mood is gone.

Blackbird poem, on 22 January 2019

Our next stop was at a lookout point.

Lookout point, 22 January 2013

It had a fine view of the heathland. And a sign, with part of a 2003 poem on the heathland by Ms Roland Holst.

1903 poem, 22 January 2019

It says, in my, not so poetic, translation:

Small paths zigzag across the heathland
and arrive at the poor people’s huts:
they are the only ones which have compassion
with the loneliness of humans suffering here.
On the heath, the emaciated sheep graze,
while bleating, they are in search of a new area
of tastier plants and watery brook
dogs and shepherds are tired and sleep …

The complete poem is here.

Lake, 22 January 2019

We continued. Again, a frozen lake. The wind had blown some snow off the ice.

Willow tree, 22 January 2019

Finally, we arrived back where we had started. Not far from there, this old willow tree.

Stay tuned; as after 22 January came 23 January at the Oude Buisse Heide!