Western Shield Camera Watch harnessing citizen science

Chuditch Rebecca Kay

An online citizen science project utilising a worldwide network of volunteers is set to enhance the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s successful wildlife recovery program Western Shield.

Launching the Western Shield Camera Watch site today, Parks and Wildlife zoologist Michelle Drew said thousands of images from automated wildlife cameras would be classified by volunteers registered on the Zooniverse website.

“This will help the Department of Parks and Wildlife with the huge task of identifying and recording animal sightings from the images collected from 90 cameras set up in conservation lands in the northern jarrah forest,” Dr Drew said.

“Comparing the numbers of sightings of cats, foxes and native wildlife in areas baited for feral animals to land areas that aren’t, will help scientists measure the effectiveness of the baiting program and adjust accordingly.

“The beauty of the Western Shield Camera Watch project is that volunteers don’t need scientific knowledge, just a keen eye and a willingness to learn.”

The website, which has more than 200,000 Western Shield Camera Watch images uploaded for identification, provides a step-by-step guide to correctly identifying animals by their shape, size, colour and markings.

Dr Drew said the project would increase the public’s understanding of the impact of foxes and feral cats on WA’s unique native wildlife and the role of Western Shield.

“Threatened species such as the woylie and numbat were once commonly found in the northern jarrah forest, but they have declined significantly due to predation by foxes, feral cats and other threats,” she said.

Western Shield is a vital tool in managing these predators and recovering and maintaining populations of threatened species across more than three million hectares of Parks and Wildlife-managed land.”

Western Shield Camera Watch is the first WA project hosted by Zooniverse, the world’s largest online platform for collaborative volunteer research.

To participate in the Western Shield Camera Watch project visit https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/birgus2/western-shield-camera-watch/home


Media contact: Parks and Wildlife Media 9219 9999

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dpawwa


Last modified on Monday, 09 May 2016 08:36