In 2007 the Jocotoco Foundation began using camera traps to document the presence of shy terrestrial mammal species that are rarely encountered. Within two years cameras had been deployed on five Jocotoco reserves. Park guards move cameras around the reserves to respond to signs of animals, and place the cameras on trees next to frequently used tracks or a food source like fruit that has fallen to the forest floor. Some of the results have been quite exciting, such as photos of pumas on all reserves, a Jaguar at the Canandé Reserve, and Mountain Tapirs at the Tapichalaca Reserve. At the Yanacocha Reserve, park guards did an experiment by placing cameras in front of carrion high in the páramo. The results are very exciting, with visits by a large puma and packs of Andean Wolves, all of which came to feed.
Pablo Moreno, a scientist at the Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales (MECN) has helped the Jocotoco Foundation manage data from the camera trap project. He has identified 23 mammal species from 14 families at the five reserves where cameras have been used. The actual number of mammal species that live in Jocotoco reserves is much greater. This is because camera traps do not effectively detect rodents, bats, or arboreal species.
While the main objective has been to document elusive mammals, camera trapping is also good for capturing images of shy understory birds. You won’t see photos of canopy flocks, but our cameras have detected birds that we rarely see such as Black Tinamou, Tawny-breasted Tinamou, Tawny-faced Quail, and numerous species of Antpittas and Antthrushes, including the Jocotoco Antpitta. At the Yanacocha Reserve, cameras placed in front of the carrion attracted not only mammals but also Andean Condor and Carunculated Caracara.
For some results, please see the Camera Trap Gallery.