The New Age Trapper

January 21, 2009

Time was, when trappers went around in raccoon caps and furs, and trapped animals for a living.

Today, the fur caps are no longer there…but trapping is still going on…in the nicest way imaginable.

At Valparai, showed us how he was using the TrailMaster, a new camera trap that he has bought.

Here he is with the equipment:

kalyan camera trap 1 160109 valparai

The two parts of the camera trap are set opposite each other on two sides of a path, and when the beam between them is cut by a passing animal, the trap triggers the camera, which takes a picture of that animal. Camera traps usually work with cheaper cameras, but Kalyan has been using his DSLR...a fact that makes some folks rather unhappy! He set up his camera and one part of the trap on gorilla pods , which are stands that are very useful for uneven terrain and even to tie equipment up on branches and wires! 2 kalyan camera trap 160109 valparai He fixed up the flash and the camera, and connected them: 3 kalyan valparai 160109 He then tied up one part of the trap to the tea bush: 4 camera trap valparai 160109 One part of the whole set up is here: 160109 valparai camera trap 5 And the other part is right opposite: 6 camera trap valparai 160109 The trap is set up late at night, when there is very little chance of any human beings passing that way, and the equipment is collected very early in the morning. The images (if any) are then examined. I realize that many of those who already know about camera trapping will find this a ridiculously simplistic explanation, but this was my first look at such equipment (I have spoken to Andre Pittet about camera traps but never actually seen one!) and I wanted to document it. I know people like Nisarg, who has worked extensively with camera traps in Bandipur; and Pallavi, who analyses the images that the camera traps result in. I tend to think that theirs must be exciting work; but like all jobs, there must surely be the slog overs there, too. There would probably be many nights when either nothing results, or poor and blurry images are all that one gets. Kalyan, in his presentation at, talked about how an elephant once ...ate a camera trap!

A camera trap seems to me to be the least intrusive way of documenting wildlife at night, and learning more about animals’ nocturnal behaviour as well. I’ll be waiting to see the entries in Kalyan’s “Camera Trap Diaries” !