Remote video-surveillance of wildlife - An introduction from experience with the European badger Meles meles
Stewart PD., Ellwood SA., Macdonald DW.
Using our experience with a remote portable video system used to study the European Badger Meles meles, we describe the use and potential of video-surveillance equipment for monitoring mammals in the field. The technique has the advantages of easy habituation by the study animal, sensitivity to illumination beyond the visible spectrum of mammals, and the ability to produce an almost continuous and permanent record of activity at a focal site under severe conditions. Increasingly sophisticated software/hardware packages are also allowing detailed data entry from video to be partly or wholly automated. The technique has the disadvantages of high initial cost, possible security problems and restricted field of view. On balance, our experience of the technique has been extremely positive. It has allowed us to monitor activity previously unseen in the species, and to conduct field experiments that would otherwise have been impractical. We conclude that the main reason the technique is not more popular is that biologists are either unaware of the improved equipment currently available, or deterred by the prospect of constructing a suitable integrated unit from the wide range of components offered. We therefore describe the technology and provide guidelines for the assembly, use and customization of a portable remote video-surveillance unit.