Wildlife monitoring is an essential part for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, breeding programmes and more. Mainly used by large organisations such as animal trusts and wildlife parks, there is a steady rise in the use of CCTV technology for wildlife monitoring. We were approached by photographer and author of CCTV for Wildlife Monitoring, Susan Young, to assist with her research for Natural England Reserves and, Woodland Trust Devon.
Wildlife monitoring is traditionally carried out using what are known as a Trail Cameras. Often the disadvantages of using these Trail Cameras would be the night time images, with poor detail and clarity due to the lack of IR. The user often ends up having to compromise the picture quality for its portable feature. In hindsight it is suitable for portable monitoring for short periods, but CCTV cameras are professional equipment designed to provide high quality images in various environments.
Susan was challenged with developing a portable solution for her wildlife research. Requiring reliable robust equipment that will survive in harsh environments but have a low power consumption. As the required power was coming from batteries, a low total current draw was essential to keep down the cost and weight of the batteries.
For wildlife recording it is essential to have: scheduled recording which can be implemented together with motion-detection recording; a pre-record feature so that valuable footage is not lost while the system is triggered by motion (a major problem with trail cameras). Adjustable motion recording sensitivity, the ability to record to an SD card as well as reliable operation from a battery are additional valuable feature. The proposed system would need to be able to operate in harsh environments over a long period of time.
Genie supplied Susan Young with the Compact SD-DVR single channel Digital Video Recorder which provides high resolution video and audio recording. The DVRs were configured for motion triggered recording with prerecording enabled to ensure that the desired footage was captured. As both the DVR and cameras are low voltage with very low current draw it as an ideal solution for the need of a battery powered system. In conjunction to the DVR’s Susan used a Genie High resolution low voltage IP67 rated camera to capture the required footage in both day and night time.
With the combination of our ZD2812IR/ACW analogue camera’ power consumption, quality images, noise reduction, smart IR and other advanced features were also valuable. The system coped well with the UK weather and conditions. Working almost continuously from Spring to Autumn on the first deployment and then from Spring to Summer the following year. The system proved to be most useful when capturing fast moving wildlife (such as bats seen in the video below), reducing the loss of motion.
The benefit of having in-motion recording and scheduled recording is to maximize on recording capacity and power efficiency as the system is only recording when there is motion or as per schedule.
Young solved the weather problem by putting the DVR and battery in a waterproof case. The box was securely chained to a tree and covered with camouflage, keeping it hidden and secure within a public park.
Susan successfully completed her research for her book, CCTV for Wildlife Monitoring. Concluding the many advantages of CCTV. Primarily being that there’s a higher quality imagery compared to the traditional remote camera setup.
Her work has not only highlighted the limitless scale of CCTV used to capture animals in their habitats but, its availability to all wildlife enthusiasts whether they’re an amateur, ecologist or animal conservation institution.
“The Genie SD-DVR is the only recorder in its class that I have found that has the required features at a reasonable cost.”
“Few suppliers seem willing to give after-sales support. Genie was recommended to me as a manufacturer of good products, and the fact that the company was in the UK and approachable was a great plus in its favour.”
–Susan Young (Photographer and Author)-