WCS/ZSL Wildlife Picture Index
In collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), we have developed a site-based Wildlife Picture Index that measures the success of species conservation in protected areas at national, regional and global scales based on innovative camera trapping techniques.
With this novel approach we aim to provide the first global indicator capable of identifying where conservation and wilderness areas are protecting species.
New advances in camera trapping methods have made it possible to monitor trends in the diversity, abundance, and distribution of a broad range of terrestrial mammals and birds, including nocturnal, rare and elusive animals that have been difficult to study using other techniques.
Camera trapping offers a non-obtrusive, low cost, verifiable, simple and effective means of meeting these objectives across disparate sites. Because of the charismatic appeal of camera trap photographs and many of the species that will be monitored, the output will be well suited for reporting geared to audiences that include policy-makers and the general public, as well as scientists and conservation practitioners.
Using the WPI, we aim to identify protected and wilderness areas where species are declining most rapidly so that appropriate conservation measures can be taken. At the local level, WPI data can be used to assist in adaptive wildlife management. For areas where conservation actions or measures have been implemented they will help to assess whether these actions are having the intended effect. In areas that allow activities of sustainable use (such as controlled hunting), it will help to indicate whether these activities are truly sustainable.
The WPI method was trialled in Liberia and Mongolia in conjunction with the Liberian Forestry Development Authority, Fauna and Flora International, and ZSL’s EDGE programme.
The aim is that camera trap data collected from the WPI network will be used to produce a global site-based indicator that tracks changes in biodiversity in conservation and wilderness areas based on rates of population change and change in area occupied for suites of vertebrate species. The WPI data will also contribute to a broad range of other CBD indicators, including those focusing on sustainable use and invasive or threatened species. In Mongolia the programme has already been successful in changing protected area boundaries to include areas inhabited by globally endangered species.