Send us footprints!

Photographing left hing footprint

Photographing left hind footprint

How to take footprint images

We would like footprints from endangered or elusive species.

There are two main categories of collection protocol:

  1. Collecting from animals maintained in a zoological institution.
  2. Collecting from free-ranging animals.

For each, you will need a digital camera which can capture images in raw format, a GPS, a pen and pencil (or camera with voice-tag or other system to label the images directly) and a sharp eye!! If you live in a place where you can engage a local tracker, you will find the process even more interesting!

 

Photographing footprints from animals held in a zoological institution

 

"Geometric

These prints allow us to build an FIT algorithm for that species and determine which footprint measurements allow us to identify individuals.

  1. Set up a trail along which the animals can walk, one at a time. You may need to bring some sand in to lay on the path to get a good substrate. This should be no more than 1cm thick, and slightly moist.
  2. Once the first animal has walked along the trail, identify all the clear left hind prints on that trail. Then organize the footprints for photography. If there are good clear prints from other feet, please take these, too. Choose the first print and place a cm ruler as the scale on bottom and left-hand axis, in relation to direction of travel. Make sure the ruler does not obscure any detail.
  3. A photo ID slip giving details of each footprint must be included in the photograph or attached as a voice tag. This should contain the date, name of photographer and any information about the animal ID if known. ‘Footprint number’ refers to the number allocated to the footprint for that day’s work. Call the first LH print in the trail 1a, the second 1b, the third 1c etc. Footprints from a second trail will be 2a, 2b etc. If only occasional footprints are seen, give each a different number. Indicate which foot, if known, under ‘Foot ID’.
  4. Taking the digital photograph. Align yourself and camera lens directly overhead of the footprint and fill the camera frame with the footprint, ruler and ID slip so that no space is wasted and the photo is filled with details of print. If possible, have a second person view you from the side to check that you are directly overhead to avoid distortion of the image. Try to get the best possible light contrast – usually found early morning and later afternoon. Avoid casting shadow on the footprint. Repeat this process until you have 15 or more left hind images.

Photographing free-ranging animal footprints

 

We need footprints from unknown free-ranging animals to test our captive-derived algorithms. Please take care not to disturb animals in their natural habitat and, if possible, always take an experienced local tracker with you if you are going to walk for any distance in terrain which is unknown to you.

Footprint

Digital image of footprint

  1. Find a good fresh clear trail (unbroken series of footprints). We would like photographs of 10-15 left HIND (LH) from the same trail (i.e., same animal). If non-LH are good and available, please collect these also and label them. For Polar bears use left FRONT prints.
  2. To take the digital photograph, align yourself and camera lens directly overhead of the footprint and fill the camera frame with the footprint, ruler and ID slip so that no space is wasted and the photo is filled with details of the print. If possible, have a second person view you from the side to check that you are directly overhead to avoid distortion of the image. Try to get the best possible light contrast – usually found early morning and later afternoon. Avoid casting shadow on the footprint.
  3. Choose the first print and place a cm ruler as the scale on bottom and left-hand axis, in relation to direction of travel. Make sure the ruler does not obscure any detail.
  4. A photo ID slip giving details of each footprint must be included in the photograph, or attached as a voice tag. This should contain the date, name of photographer and any information about the animal ID, if known. ‘Footprint number’ refers to the number allocated to the footprint for that day’s work. Call the first LH print in the trail 1a, the second 1b, the third 1c etc. Footprints from a second trail will be 2a, 2b etc. If only occasional footprints are seen, give each a different number. Indicate which foot, if known, under ‘Foot ID’. A new feature in FIT allows for a depth recalibration. Measure and record the depth at the center of the footprint.

Comments are closed