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The Curious Kangaroo

It is a conundrum many grapple with: how to observe something without our act of observation effecting the result.

An example is clearly at play with our use of motion-sensing cameras to observe the behaviour of animals in the bush.

We have many illustrations of how some animals appear to be aware of the existence of a camera and/or its operation. This example is but one of many recorded over recent months. In this case the camera has been set on a pathway frequented by kangaroos. A kangaroo stops in its track just as it is speeding past the camera. On a subsequent day, it was sufficiently intrigued to investigate further.

We cannot assume that our camera traps are perfect ‘fly on the wall’ observers; and we need to be aware of the potential for their effect on animal behaviour. There are things we can do to minimise this risk, including reducing foreign scents as much as possible, and preventing ‘familiarity’ (by not having cameras in place for extended periods so they become ‘normalised’ in the landscape.)

John Roberts


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