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Wildlife Candid Camera

Chimps caught on camera traps in Senegal.

Get up close and personal with African wildlife via AWF’s camera traps—a popular technology used in ecological research and monitoring. It is also one of the methods that AWF and its partners employ when studying lesser-known species or monitoring threatened species to better protect them.

Camera traps revolutionized wildlife research because of their minimally invasive nature. Placed directly in wildlife habitats, they are remotely activated through motion or infrared sensors and record wildlife movement and behavior.

Usually, camera traps go completely undetected by wildlife because they use infrared light and no flash. They also operate continuously, allowing for around-the-clock surveillance. As a result, this technology provides unprecedented accuracy when identifying new or rare species or counting animals in an area.

Camera traps used by AWF scientists

According to, AWF’s Great Apes Program Director, Jef Dupain, AWF has been using these cameras in a number of ways. “In West Africa’s Parc W, we placed camera traps at strategic waterpoints so we could determine the frequency of visits by different large mammals and get a better understating of their distribution in the park in a very time-and cost-effective way.

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve, thanks to the cameras we can get better insight into the composition of the bonobo community, which is especially helpful when the animals are not yet habituated and thus difficult to observe.”

Elephant at Parc W watering hole

Similarly, AWF Ecologist Nakedi Maputla relied on this technology to determine the population of elusive leopard in an area just outside South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

We’re happy to share some of our camera trap videos with you, on various species pages across the site. Explore the site so you can catch a peek of Africa’s wildlife at home.


Photos: Kelly Boyer Department of Anthropology Iowa State University, Billy Dodson, Moumouni Ouedraogo 

Gayane Margaryan
About the Author

Gayane is AWF's Online Communications Associate. She works with our blogs, social media, and online partners. Gayane is passionate about communicating the message of conservation through new tools and technologies and finding ways to make information easily accessible. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.

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AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.