Camera Trapping

Photos and text by: © L. Bruce Kekule

Camera-trapping has been around for over a century when the first flashlight
camera triggered by trips wires in 1906 by George Shiras lll made history. In the
late twenties, two other men, F.M. Chapman and F.W. Champion, were using
pressure plates to activate their cameras. National Geographic magazine published
many photographs from these early pioneers’ work.

Trailmaster came out with ‘active infrared’ camera-traps followed by Camtrakker
and their ‘passive infrared’ camera-traps, both companies using point-and-shoot
film cameras. Many years later, camera-traps using digital cameras began to appear
and now there are many companies producing digital camera-traps from U.S. $99 up
to $500 and more.  Some are good but most are not suitable for the tough
conditions found in Thailand’s forests.

As a wildlife photographer, I decided to produce my own camera-traps using
passive infrared circuit boards from the U.S., and digital cameras modified locally
with housings built from aluminum. These were set-up in the forest of Kaeng
Krachan National Park over a three- month period in October-November-December,
2008. Animals captured were elephants, gaur, tiger, sambar and muntjac. One
camera had over 300 captures in one month at a mineral deposit in the park.