Workshop Participants at Telperion (photo/WildTrack)

Innovative Tools for Conservation Data: Small Mammal Tracking

This past April, JRS Grantee WildTrack collaborating with the Tswalu Foundation and Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation, hosted a tracking workshop centered on rapid, cost-effective and sustainable biodiversity metrics to detect small mammals present but often overlooked in African habitats. The workshop brought together nearly two dozen participants for several days at Telperion Nature Reserve, South Africa. Participants included key partners at the National Museum (Bloemfontein), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), ecologists from the Botswana Agricultural University (BUAN) and well-established trackers from Eco-Training as well as interested policy-makers, field ecologists and technicians from the Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation.

Sunrise over the Vlei with the river below. (photo/WildTrack)

The workshop focused on the art and science of wildlife tracking and as Dr Jewel notes “brought a completely new discipline to [workshop] participants, none of whom were able to identify basic [small mammal] tracks on arrival” Activities included tracker training and engagement (TaLEK), field work including: setting out traps to collect reference data, recording data from animals caught, processing data twice daily, examining and innovating SMART box and tunnel designs, presenting and listening to research material.

Drs. Zoe Jewell and Sky Alibhai co-founded WildTrack in 2011 to address a widespread need for less invasive and more cost-effective tools to monitor endangered species. Read more about their JRS sponsored project  Novel Biodiversity Metric: Small Mammal Track Analysis using AI, Morphometrics and Traditional and Local Ecological Knowledge (TaLEK).


Placing the glass cover on the SMART box. (photo/WildTrack)
Participants bring mice for foot printing. (photo/WildTrack)
Workshop participants help process the collected data. (photo/WildTrack)