The new gap camera at the Melbourne Zoo is one of the most exciting new developments in Australia’s wildlife photography market.
The $7 million, 4K digital camera was installed in July this year by the Australian Wildlife Research Centre (AWRC) to help monitor the decline of the black and white spotted hyrax.
Its arrival was welcomed by conservationists and the public, who saw it as a sign of hope for the endangered species.
“The new camera is a major step forward in monitoring the trends of the spotted hyrox and the decline in populations,” said Dr Helen Schulte, a researcher with AWRC.
“It’s an important milestone in the conservation of the species.”
The new camera, which is a combination of a pair of sensors, is connected to a GPS tracker which gives the photographer a complete view of the animal’s movements.
While the camera itself is not designed for filming wildlife, researchers hope that its use of motion tracking technology and a camera that is both compact and lightweight will make it more practical for wildlife photographers.
The camera itself has been designed with an emphasis on privacy, which could help it avoid legal issues if the camera is used for filming animals in the wild.
However, with its popularity rising, the AWRC is already considering a number of other potential uses for the camera.
“We’re also looking at developing a camera system that could be used in conjunction with cameras that can record footage of animals in captivity,” Dr Schultec said.
“This could allow us to film animals in their natural environment, such as a zoo or in a field, rather than having to film them in the lab.”
The camera has also been given a name: the “Black and White Spot”.
The camera’s software is also being developed for future use in zoos, where it could be adapted to monitor and record the movements of different animals.
“Although we don’t currently have a camera for wildlife photography, it could potentially be developed for other applications that are in demand for conservation,” Dr Hernan Gómez, AWRC senior research scientist, said.
It is hoped that the new camera will be adopted by wildlife photographers in other countries.
“As with any technology, it’s still very early days for the spotted, so there’s still lots to do,” Dr Gómedes said.
However the AWrc is optimistic that the camera’s use in conservation is only just beginning.
“With the rise of the Black and White spotted hyrops in the zoo, there are now over 20 species of spotted hyrres,” Dr Daphne O’Neil, a conservation biologist with AWEC, said in a statement.
“By 2030, the spotted and the spotted/black hyrax should be in the same wild population in Australia, so we’re really starting to see an increasing number of spotted and black hyroids in captivity.”