Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer got a big surprise the other day when he came back to check on his camera trap that he left out in the jungle to film rare animals. When he walked up to the camera he saw that a colony of termites had started building a nest inside and around his camera, destroying it in the process. “At first I thought that they only got at the outside of the camera and that it would be fine” said Jeff, “But when I took the lens off I saw that they were inside the camera started building on the lens as well. They even started eating the memory card that was inside the camera.”
What do you do in the jungle? Jeff is a wildlife photographer based in the Amazon jungle of southeastern Peru.
|Jeff Cremer is a wildlife photographer in the Peruvian Amazon. You can follow him on twitter @JCremerPhoto|
What is a camera trap? A camera trap is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present, and has been used in ecological research for decades.
What can you tell us about the termites and why were they attracted to the camera? The termites look to be some sort of nasutitermes. The nasute termite genus Nasutitermes is widely distributed all over the tropical regions. They get their name because the soldier caste possesses a frontal projection called the nasus.
There are around 70 nasutiterme species in the neotropics.
Lucas Carnohan, a termite specialist, says “I'd guess they weren't particularly drawn to the camera so much as Jeff happened to put the camera on the ground in a place with a lot of active termites. So they did what termites do and put muddy termite poo tunnels all over it while exploring the new terrain”
Termites play an important role in decomposition processes in tropical forest ecosystems. They affect the landscape and soil composition by breaking down the biomass with the aid of resident gut microbiota.
“In the Amazon, every single niche is exploited, including Canon camera bodies. Maybe because Jeff weather proofed it so well the termites found it to be a suitable fortress to colonize.” says entomologist AaronPomerantz
|Termites also put their muddy termite poo all over the lens.|
|Termites tried making their nest inside the camera.|
Did the memory card survive? Did you get some good camera trap photos?
The memory card survived and I got some shots of some amazing and rare animals.
It seems like Mr. Puma was walking through the jungle one evening minding his own business when a camera took his picture. Mr. Puma turned towards the sound while the camera took another pic. He then walked right up to the camera and looked at it with a sad face, then walked off. Puma are huge iconic predators of the Amazon. They are the fourth largest cat in the world with adults standing about 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in) tall at the shoulders. Pumas are, like most cats, metaturnal. That means that they sleep partly through the day and partly through the night. These agile yet powerful cats hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey. They like to feed on tapir but sometimes feed on smaller animals.
|Mr. Puma checking out the camera|
Ocelot and MargayThese “mini-jaguars” are an awesome find. They look very similar but have their differences.
Margay: smaller body size, longer tail, larger eyes, bigger, rounded ears (all in respect to body/head size). Margay are nocturnal and spend most of their lives in the trees but sometimes come down to hunt rats and other small mammals.
Ocelot: larger body size, shorter tail, smaller eyes, a bit more triangular smaller ears (in respect to general anatomy). The fur pattern is also distinctive in each species. Ocelot are also nocturnal but hunt prey on the ground.
Amazonian Tapir - Tapirs are the largest mammals in the Amazon, but their large size doesn’t mean they’re easy to find. Tapirs are notoriously difficult to see with one Tapir researcher spending over a year in the field only to catch a glimpse of just one in person! These odd-looking creatures look similar to a horse but are actually more closely related to the Rhinoceros. (Source: http://blog.perunature.com/2013/02/welcome-to-tapir-eden.html)
|An adult Tapir|
|A baby taper following its mom down the trail|
These guys are super rare. There are only two or three per every 100 square kilometers. The necks and backs of Giant Armadillos are covered in flexible "armor" consisting of 14 to 17 moveable bands of horn and bone. The head and body of giant armadillos measure 30- to 40- inches long, and their tails reach about 20 inches. Armadillos can reach 130 pounds, but most weigh between 40 and 70 pounds.
A guan is an arboreal bird that somewhat resembles a turkey in size and shape. They are another sign of a healthy rainforest since in places where hunting occurs the large birds become easy and desired targets and quickly disappear.
How did you know where to put the camera trap?
I spend a lot of time in the jungle hiking and going on expeditions. I came across what seemed to be some active trails that wildlife use close to the Tambopata river so I thought that it would be a good place for a camera trap.
What can you do to protect the camera in the future?
Some people modify pelican cases to fit their cameras and gear. I just ordered one. :)