Broken equipment is an all too common problem with financial and environmental costs to conservation. Last month, I was thrilled to be invited to speak at an online tutorial on getting started with camera trap repairs, a small step toward mitigating these issues. Three things stood out as being worthy of further consideration:
1. There are people who are really eager to learn more about repairing their devices themselves, meaning repair skills and tips are in demand. So much so that the tutorial which was scheduled to last for 30 minutes overran considerably in order to answer everyone’s questions. The conversation has since been continued online.
2. Repairing camera traps requires a bit of detective work and is likely to be a trial and error process which entails getting familiar with the different components of the camera. Co-presenters Rob Appleby and Alistair Stewart demonstrated basic tests to diagnose electrical issues and suggested quick fixes such as clearing the points of contact for batteries. However, unfortunately not all repairs will be as straightforward and not all repairs can be carried out without specialised equipment or parts. Despite this, it’s still worth a try. There are many more potential issues than those discussed during the tutorial and each camera trap model is slightly different, which brings me on to the last point:
3. There is a lot of potential for collaboration on maintaining commonly used wildlife monitoring devices. Sharing the faults diagnosed in each model, as well as posting step by step explainers of successful (and not so successful) repair attempts, could be of great help to practitioners facing similar issues. There is now a spreadsheet affiliated to the WILDLABS.NET community forum to do just that.
See more resources from Laure, Rob, and Alistair on their WILDLABS episode page.