Snapshot Safari & Citizen Science

By Samara on March 29, 2020
We love a good citizen science initiative and Snapshot Safari, powered by Zooniverse, offers an easy and fun way for people all over the world to contribute to conservation research.

Snapshot Safari’s premise is simple – thousands of camera traps set up across sub-Saharan Africa collect a multitude of images per day as wildlife moves past, triggering motion-sensor cameras. All this data can be used for valuable research, conservation and management decision-making. Sorting through it all, however, can be impractical and costly. The solution? Outsource this mammoth task to volunteers from the general public who can classify the images from the comfort of their own home – a method known as citizen science.

In this manner crucial information on species presence, density and behaviour across a variety of terrains and land management types can be revealed. Each photo is viewed about 10 times to reduce room for error in identifying the animal, and a recent study of the technique indicated a 97% accuracy rate.

Samara joined the project in 2019 as part of a broader research undertaking by the Nelson Mandela University to ascertain mammal diversity on the reserve compared to a neighbouring livestock farm, as well as the comparative effectiveness of various survey methods. MSc student Chloe Burt, under the supervision of Dr Jan Venter, set up dozens of camera traps and other surveys, including block transects, track plates, mist nets and local knowledge assessments through interviews with staff on both properties.

Preliminary results indicate the presence of 42 mammal species on Samara, compared to 26 on the neighbouring farm. The camera traps have picked up evidence of species seldom spotted on the reserve including bushpig, caracal and aardwolf. So far just two 3-month stints of camera trapping have been conducted, but over time the images will create an important resource for Samara’s Conservation Team to assess biodiversity patterns and species dynamics.

Try it yourself

Keen to try your hand at identifying African wildlife to help conservationists? Snapshot Safari has plenty of active projects to keep you busy. Click here to get started.


Samara Private Game Reserve is a luxury Big Five safari destination with a difference. Guests are invited behind the scenes of a passionate conservation journey to restore a unique South African wilderness. This genuine conservation participation combines with heartfelt Karoo hospitality and breathtaking landscapes to offer a safari that feeds the soul.

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