Ambitious Project Seeks Citizen Scientists To Help Document a War-Ravaged Park’s Recovery.
Gorongosa National Park. 1500 square miles of lush flood plain in central Mozambique. It was said to be “the place where Noah left his Ark.” Filled with wild animals and more than 500 species of birds, the large animal populations in Gorongosa were decimated by the war for independence in the 1970s and the civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some populations of large animals in Gorongosa were almost completely wiped out. Prior to the civil war, there were 14000 buffalo, 3000 zebra and 500 lions in Gorongosa. After the war, which often raged inside Gorongosa’s borders, only 15 buffalo, 5 zebras and 6 lions remained.
Conservationists are fighting to restore the park and its animal populations. You can help to document the recovery by classifying animals and their behaviors found in pictures taken from over 50 trail cameras located within the park! No scientific background is required, just a computer with internet connection and the desire to participate.
How to Join the Wildcam Gorongosa Tracking Project:
Use the buttons to the right of the picture to classify any animals that you see and their behaviors.
If you are unsure, use the simple online field guide at the top of the same page to search for your best guess as to which animals you see. Do not worry! Other people will be classifying the same picture and a computer algorithm will filter out any errors. If too many people have different classifications, one of the researchers will be the tiebreaker.
Set up a Zooniverse account (at the upper right of the page) so you can track your progress (not required, but a fun option!).
Videos Related to the WildCam Project:
This video gives a brief example of the type of trail cam footage that you will be assessing and classifying.
While this video at 06:25 shows how the trail cams were setup. The video also shows the researchers at Gorongosa working on a lion tracking project using both radio collars and the trail cam footage. The trail camera initiative that you are welcome to participate in, started as a study led by the Gorongosa Lion Project to understand the status and recovery of the lion population since the end of the war.
Have fun and enjoy the project! Please share with your friends who might also like to participate!
Additional Information About Gorongosa National Park:
Here is a 3-minute trailer for a National Geographic documentary on Gorongosa entitled “Africa’s Lost Eden.” It will show you just what is being saved and the animals that you might encounter on the webcams…
If you have an hour, here is the full documentary showing the ravages of the civil war and the relocation of elephants, and hippos into the park. It is a beautiful and hopeful documentary, and will provide extra motivation for you to help with the tracking project. The documentary also interviews Gregory Carr, an American entrepreneur, who has pledged $40 million over the next 20 years to rebuild the park, in part so it can serve as a source of tourist income for the local population.
On the next page are the instructions from the Wildcam Gorongosa website in case you haven’t headed over there yet, because you are a little worried about being able to successfully identify the Gorongosa animals.