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The eMammal project is using camera trapping to connect middle school kids from NC, India, and Mexico through the animals they photograph.

Students in India prepare their camera traps to monitor animals outside protected areas near their school.

Students in India prepare their camera traps to monitor animals outside protected areas near their school.

Led by FWCB post doc Dr. Stephanie Schuttler and faculty Dr. Roland Kays, this project is collecting important data about what wildlife lives outside of protected areas. The middle school science classes set camera traps near their school and return a few weeks later to check the memory cards. They then use the eMammal software to look through the pictures, identify the species, and upload everything to a central database. NCSU students and scientists then review the pictures to confirm the species identifications, and archive the data in a repository at the Smithsonian, where they are available for conservation and scientific uses.

The cameras have revealed a surprising diversity of mammals, not only in suburban Raleigh, but in forests surrounding the Indian and Mexican schools. Raleigh kids (and scientists) were surprised to photograph a coyote on school property at Carrol Middle School, near the North Hills Mall. Outside of Guadalajara, the Mexican students cameras recorded species that were detected in NC (e.g. white-tailed deer, coyote, gray fox), but also two tropical cat species: ocelot and jaguarundi. The biggest wildlife came from the Indian cameras, which showed that tigers, leopards, and dholes were using the same forest paths that local communities walked daily.

The kids and teachers shared some of their favorite pictures online, and made videos showing what life is like in their school. The cultural exchange included travel for teachers to meet each other in a planning meeting in Mexico, and a capstone event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences that included students and teachers from all three countries. The kids will continue running camera traps in the upcoming year, monitoring their local wildlife populations, and sharing data and favorite pictures with their new friends around the world.

The eMammal International project is funded by the Museums Connect program of the US State Department.

A tiger photographed by students cameras in India.

A tiger photographed by students cameras in India.

Mexican students captured this amazing picture of a jaguarundi carrying a ringed-tail squirrel.

Mexican students captured this amazing picture of a jaguarundi carrying a ringed-tail squirrel.