Archive for the ‘Camera Trapping’ Category
Two stolen cams and a female elephant in the dense bush on Dec. 30, 2016…!!
An Indochinese tiger passes my Nikon D700 DSLR camera trap on 8/13/2016 – 6:24 AM…!
As most of my friends know, I went to the USA back in September 2016 to do a road trip and my first ‘bucket list’ visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks respectively, and then up into Canada. It was a great trip and I was able to tick those items off my list. I returned to Thailand on Nov. 15th and it took me sometime before I could get into the forest to check my camera traps.
A young bull elephant taking in minerals…!
Before I left, I set four DSLR traps, and three video cams where I usually work in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ northwest of Bangkok. Over the years, this place has proven very productive capturing photos of tigers and other cryptic creatures in the wild forests found here. Thailand’s natural legacy is still thriving and I have some remarkable images of nature on file.
A banteng bull bolts as the cam’s flashes go off…!
Unfortunately, lady luck decided to look the other way. Two videos (a Bushnell Trophy Cam and a ‘Fireman Jim’ DXG 125-day only cam) were stolen by poachers (or some other dishonest and very undesirable people) which of course was a shock to me…I’ve been working in this sanctuary for more than 20 years and never lost anything…I was proud of this fact and record. So it’s back to the drawing board to improve the possibility of theft. I have ‘elephant proofing’ down pat but a new design to double-up the security of all my cams is needed (extra work for me) and I will post this at a later date.
A pair of banteng cows bolt from the mineral deposit…!
So I decided to move out of the area and not set any camera traps here for now. But there is a hot-spring close by with a blind set up to facilitate photography through the lens. This natural place has tiger and leopard that roam around and it is here 18 years ago, that I photographed a black leopard up at the mineral deposit. I got my Nikon D4s with a 200-400mm lens and tripod, and a Nikon D3000 with a Tamron 70-200mm lens ready plus some snacks, water, camo material plus my pistol (remember elephant country) and hiked in about a kilometer to the blind. On the way in, I bumped into a wild elephant camp with fresh tracks and poop all over the place. A big herd was nearby…!
A young sambar stag in the morning…!
As usual, I just moved through and then sat in the blind that afternoon collecting some nice shots of barking deer and a young male peafowl shown here. Around 6pm, I packed-up for the walk back to the truck. About 100 meters down the track, I saw a big elephant on the trail…oh poop, my trail back to the truck was blocked and I certainly was not going to put my life in jeopardy (mother’s with small baby elephants or big tusk-less bulls means certain death). I turned back towards the blind and there was another smaller jumbo behind me.
A pair of sambar does late at night…!
This was serious as it seemed I was surrounded by the herd. So the only thing was to pop-off a round in the air with my Colt Government .38 Super Auto which brought out a roar from the big one down on the trail but the little one fled into the bush. I rushed back to the blind and threw down my chair and some trash in a plastic bag, and then hauled butt up another hill with a trail back to my parked truck. Up I went and it was rough going but I continued on. After about 20 minutes of thrashing around, it turned dark. With my headlamp on, I still struggled to find a trail. I got the shock of my life when I bumped into a huge female elephant not more than 6 meters away. She snorted at me and made a short mock charge but some small trees and saplings stopped her short. My pistol was out again and I let off another round in the air, and then yelled for her to Go, Go, Go as loud as I could.
A very old tapir taking in minerals…!
I was lucky as she was alone, and squealed high-tailing it in the opposite direction. I let out a sigh of relief and took stock…I had my iPhone and turned on the compass and went west. I then found a worn path back to a mineral deposit at the front near the road and eventually my truck. Now that was a close call and one that I do not want to repeat.
Muntjac (barking deer) pair at the hot-springs in mid-afternoon…!
It was about 8pm before I got going. About 10 kilometers down the track back to camp, I took a wrong turn and ran over a huge bolder getting stuck. Had to winch myself over it (just replaced a broken cable a few days before – lucky). I got back to camp arriving about 9pm. At the station, had a few sundowners to calm my nerves and then it was straight to bed. I had to go back to the blind the next morning to pick-up my camp chair and that rubbish I had left behind the night before. As I went through the mineral deposit, the elephants had retreated to the deep bush and I passed through without incident..!
A female muntjac jumping in front of a young male peafowl in display…!
I then left the area and went to where I had set the four DSLRs. During the time I was in the States, my D700 performed extremely well. Got a tiger a few days after I set the cam in late Aug. 2016. Also, got banteng (wild cattle), elephant and sambar and barking deer plus an old tapir. The other three cams did not work at all and I got nothing (primarily battery problems). One of the D700’s flashes and the sensor got ripped up by elephants as I did not have a sturdy tree to attached them to and just laid them on the ground (big mistake). The other flash and the D700 were fine having attached with lag bolts to a tree. I will be setting this D700 nearby at another deposit with a bigger tree…!!
All that’s left of a Bushnell Trophy Cam…!
All in all, getting the tiger was a plus even though it’s not a very nice photograph with leaf shadow on its face from the flash on the ground. As soon as time permits, I’ll be setting more DSLRs at my favorite places before a scheduled trip to India in late-February…! Finally, I want everyone to know that I carry a pistol for protection, and as a noise-maker when necessary as in this case. I might not have made it back on the 30th December if I did not have my sidearm…!!
All that’s what is left of a ‘Fireman Jim’ DXG 125 video cam: Opened by humans and then bent by elephants…!
Following is a gallery of elephants by camera trap and through the lens…!!
This is what they call a ‘Tuskless Bull’…taller and bigger than a tusker…!
A family unit has just left the hot-spring close to where I was sitting….they were about 100-yards away…!
Bumping into one of these guys or gals at night can be scary…!
And they can ring your neck and that’s be all she wrote…!
A youngish elephant at the old ‘tiger log’…!
A young tusker and female on a trail in the bush at night…!
Even a very young bull could wreck havoc if you bumped into him deep in the bush…!
The ‘tiger hunter’ setting one of his cams in the ‘Western Forest Complex’…!
For the most part, wild elephants will flee at the first sight or smell of humans. However, there are exceptions and many a trekker, poacher and ranger has met their fate with a mother and infant, or an old mean bull. The best option is to climb a tree but this is not always possible. Running uphill is another way to escape these beasts if they are determined to stomp you…I always pray to the forest spirits not to bump into the jumbos period….life is too short…!!
After several years of working my Nikon D700 trail cam, this shot stands out as my best overall leopard shot. These carnivores are quite common where I work in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand but daytime shots are rare. Unfortunately, the ‘tiger log’ is now gone (burnt-up in the last ‘fire’ season) and I’m still looking for a good replacement…but I have a few in mind….!! He’s a big mature male Asian wild cat…Enjoy…!
After a few years of DSLR camera trapping in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand, I have finally chosen an image of a male Indochinese tiger caught one afternoon at 4.41pm that is my all-time favorite. For this location, I built a Canon 600D with an old Nikon 50mm manual lens incorporating an adapter (Nikon to Canon) in a Pelican 1150 case with an external Snapshotsniper SS II sensor on a 10-meter hardwire, and two SB28s in Tupperware® style boxes also on 10-meter hardwires. This mature tiger was out hunting when he passed the cam and the manual settings were ISO 400; ƒ8; 1/100 sec. and this shot was the last in a string of six. Enjoy…!
Nikon D3000 travel cam catches a palm civet, jackals, wild boar, langur monkey and a semi-feral cat…!
An Asian palm civet in a dry stream bed at the Ken River Lodge, Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India…!
In March 2016, I made a trip to Panna Tiger Reserve in India after tigers. I was lucky catching two sisters, the offspring of T1, Panna’s first tiger reintroduced from near-by Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Poachers completely wiped out the big cat in Panna in one year during 2008 but there are 32 tigers thriving now which is an amazing conservation success story.
Jackal shown here bolting from the flash…! These canidae usually travel in pairs…!
I stayed at the Ken River Lodge outside the reserve several kilometers from the front gate to the park. Pugpundee Safari Company manages this hotel plus others in Bandhavgarh, Pench, Kanha and Satpura tiger reserves in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
A wild boar scavenging in the stream bed…!
The owner wanted to see what was roaming the grounds and invited me to set a camera trap in a dry stream bed not far from my room. After two weeks, I came back through to check the Nikon D3000 with a Nikon 24mm manual lens, one Nikon SB-28 flash and a SSII external sensor.
A gray or ‘Hanuman’ langur leaf monkey during the day….!
The cam caught a palm civet, a pair of jackals, a wild boar and a langur monkey plus a semi-feral cat. Although not as glamorous as a tiger or leopard, these wild creatures are still just as important to the ecosystem excluding the cat. Leopard tracks have been found near the river..!
A semi-feral cat; sometimes this feline was found sleeping up at the resort…!
The ‘tiger hunter’ with knee pads walk-testing the D3000…!
The ‘Tiger Log’ is No More…!
An Indochinese tiger crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand…!
Asian leopard crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘daytime…!
‘Tiger Log’ is left in a long pile of ash after a serious forest fire in late-March, 2016…!
In early March of 2016 before my trip to India, I decided to move my old D700 trail cam as forest fire was edging closer and the fires this year were very intense due to serious drought conditions in Thailand.
A large Indian civet crossing the new log…!
This Nikon D700 full-frame DSLR with a 35mm Nikon manual lens in a Pelican 1150 case enclosed in an ‘elephant proof box’ has worked on the ‘tiger log’ in the Western Forest Complex for several years now.
A black bear walking the log…!
In the past, I always moved my cameras out of the dryer deciduous areas (usually in March at the beginning of the dry season) to semi-evergreen forests that grow in profusion at higher elevations all year round. Due to moist conditions, these evergreen forests do not burn for the most part.
A male muntjac (barking deer) about to cross….!
However, I did have a good run on the log and was lucky to get some really great tiger and leopard shots plus other creatures, big and small. Another location in the semi-evergreen forest was chosen where fires never reach and this year, it was a good thing that I moved my camera as disaster would have killed it on the ‘tiger log’.
A female muntjac sniffing some scent (Thai fish sauce)…!
When I got back from India, I made a trip into the forest and when I got to the ‘tiger log’, I was shocked. The dead tree had been completely burnt to the ground. All that was left was a long pile of gray ash. If I had left the cam, the old D700 would have been a goner of melted plastic, metal and glass.
A big elephant crossing the log…if not tightly secured, the trunk and foot can wreak havoc on cams…!
Here is a collection of images I got from the new log yet to be named. It was OK for a first set but I want to fine-tune the cam (only one flash was working) and also be on the lookout for other ‘log’ locations in the meantime. Fortunately, the first rains have come through and there is no more danger of fire this year. More to follow from the new log…!
A lightweight porcupine on the log…!
A heavyweight ‘tiger hunter’ testing the D700…!
Two even-toed ungulates caught by my DSLR travel cam…!
Another two species captured on my Nikon D3000 travel cam was a goral (goat-antelope) and a muntjac male (barking deer). Even though these two even-toed ungulates are not as glamorous as the tiger, they are still an indication of the prey base found in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve (private land) in the Corbett Landscape. Hopefully sometime next year, I will be able to return to this place but earlier (about Feb.when it’s cooler). It was boiling hot this year and a bit of a fire hazard (many areas are now being razed by fire) and certainly if I had waited any longer, my camera may have been burnt to crisp)…!
Goral (goat-antelopes) are found in Northern India in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains…!
A muntjac male (barking deer) are found all over India and a main food source for the big cats…!
Awhile back, I published a post on ‘my travel cam DSLRs’ on this forum and got some nice mongoose pics from that set last year. I have just wrapped up another trip to Northern India where I set one of my D3000s on a trail in a place called Vanghat resort and private wildlife reserve not far from Corbett Tiger Reserve in the State of Uttarakhand. After only two nights, a female tiger walked past the cam and tripped the sensor several times…this is the best shot from the series…Lady luck doing her magic once again…!!
Nikon D3000 with a 24mm manual lens – 2 SB-28s set at 1/4 power..!
Settings: ƒ8; 1/250 sec; ISO 400.
Video footage of Thailand’s rare carnivores including tiger, leopard, bear and wild dog. Most of this footage is recent..!
In late December of 2012, I did my last safari to Samburu National Park in Northern Kenya. At the lodge I was staying at, big Nile crocodiles would come up at night into the hotel grounds next to the river (closed-off to people of course) and set-up one of my Sony S600 home-brews on the fence. It was more or less a tourist attraction as the staff fed the crocodiles with left-overs. That night, a slew of them came-up out of the river and the old 600 did its job. One frame shows a genet (little carnivore) caught taunting the crocs…it was one on those weird moments in nature where the little guy must have known it could out-run the fat reptiles…..Enjoy…!
Camera trapping in India…!
A pair of Indian or grey mongoose at the Denwa Backwater Escape lodge in Satpura Tiger Reserve, Central India…!
These small predators were not spooked by the sound of the camera or the flashes…!
Jet travel is fine and dandy if you like to go places that requires a commercial airplane to get to your finale destination. The hustle and bustle, and increased security (but very necessary in this day and age) through airports is a pain if you ask me, and baggage and weight can also add to your problems. A couple DSLR trail cams in ‘Outdoor Products’ cases, plus sensors and four flashes in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes with hard-wires and a couple 10mm Python locking cables will make your suitcase bump the scale up a bit near the maximum for check-in baggage (40 kilograms). I decided to go with a couple small Nikon D3000s that are reasonably priced cameras on the used-market here in Thailand plus they both fit is the cases I had.
Nikon D3000 #1 & #2 trail cams…!
D3000 trail cam #2 in small Outdoor Box and SSII sensor on a 10 meter hard wire…!
D3000 #2 open at the back…!
While I was in the U. S. in 2013, I picked up two ‘Outdoor Products’ or ‘Wally’ cases as they are sometimes called (one small and one large) that seemed perfect for my travel DSLR idea. I put the cameras in and they fit perfectly: one D3000 with a battery pack install in the large one for longer soaks, and a D3000 without a battery pack fit in the small case for short time soaks (3-4 days). I used 3” aluminum tubing for the snorkels and fit 77mm UV filters with Marine Goop. Two ‘eye-ring’ bolts are installed in each cam.
Nikon D3000 #1 in large “Outdoor Products’ case and a SSII in a ‘Tupperware® box…!
As the Nikon D3000 has no remote control port (older model and cheaper), the cameras had to be hacked at the shutter button. This allowed both cameras to fit nicely without any protrusions as if a shutter release plug used as any of the newer Nikon’s in the 3000 series. When I travel, I hand-carry the cameras and pack the traps in my luggage: never put a camera or lens in your suitcase..!
D3000 trail cam #1 open at the front…!
Camera No 1: Uses a Nikon 24mm manual lens with the battery pack (two batteries) and is hard-wired to a SSII in a small ‘Tupperware’® type box on a 10-meter cable. Two ports are for the external flashes: one on a 6-meter cable and the other flash on a 10-meter cable. Both flashes are in ‘Tupperware’® type boxes. A couple of ‘eye-bolts’ are used in conjunction with a ‘Python’ locking cable for minimum security.
Camera No 2: uses a Nikon 50mm manual lens but without a battery pack and hard-wired to a SSII sensor in a small round plastic ‘Tupperware’® type locking box on a 10-meter cable. The camera is hacked inside at both the shutter button and the flash connection and there are two ports for flash cables and a large pair of ‘eye-bolts’ for a 10mm Python locking cable. A couple of bungee cords are also used to position the cams on trees or poles before installing the steel cables, and then using them to set the flashes in place. This is my smallest DSLR trail cam to date…!
D3000 #2 with two connections on the side of the case for hard-wired SB-28s…!
Nikon SB-28 in a ‘Tupperware®’ style box held in place with a ‘bungee cord’…!
Four Nikon SB-28s in ‘Tupperware®’ boxes and hard-wired from 6 to 10 meters…!
The mongoose pair tripped off quite a few frames attracted by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce
in a small cup surrounded by water in a larger bowl to keep the ants out..!
My safari to India in November 2015 was the perfect time to test these two cams out and is the first time I have used them abroad. No: 2 cam captured a couple of breeding Indian or grey mongoose at the last hotel I stayed at in Satpura Tiger Reserve shown here. No: 1 cam got a scavenger dog (which came out quite nice for sharpness and exposure) and then a feral cat that told me there was no wildlife around Earth Lodge outside Kanha Tiger Reserve.
In 2014, I got a couple of ‘jungle cats’ on a Bushnell Trophy Cam at the King’s Lodge in Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve but this time another feral cat tripped the sensor meaning the wild cats were no longer there. Even though the mongoose images are not super sharp, it was still good to at least catch something really wild. The feral cats and dog was a bit of a letdown but were still good test subjects.
A feral dog drawn in by chicken bait and Thai fish sauce in Kanha Earth Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India