Camera traps are commonly used to survey snow leopard populations. Each snow leopard has unique spot patterns that allow researchers to determine their identity from their photographs. It has long been assumed that researchers are able to identify snow leopards without making errors. However, in a controlled experiment we found people’s identification skills to be highly variable. In this experiment, even experienced observers misidentified some of the photographs. Upon realizing this, we decided we needed to develop a tool which would allow researchers to practice, test and quantify their skills at identifying snow leopards—and ultimately facilitate snow leopard population assessments.
So… We deployed camera traps in zoos to capture photographs of snow leopards with known Identities. The background in the photographs has been blurred so that no other features besides the spot pattern can be used to identify the snow leopards.
Want to know how it works?
You will be presented with two images of snow leopards with two simple questions.
- Are these cats the same cat?
- How confident are you?
The images themselves can be zoomed in using mouse scroll of the +/- buttons. Choose your answer then click submit!
On submission, you’ll be shown whether your answer was correct or incorrect:
You can see your scores on the ‘Reports’ page:
Click on ‘View Responses’ to see your results from each question:
The Snow Leopard Training and Evaluation Toolkit allows our team (and now you!) to practice identifying snow leopards, test how well they perform, and improve their skills. In order to participate, you will need to create a username and password. The software will save your answers so you can evaluate your skills in identifying snow leopards and monitor your improvements over time. The evaluation scores will also enable us to quantify the uncertainty in snow leopard identification and thus add to the variance of estimated densities and detection probabilities in future.
Have any questions? Want to provide feedback on this program? We would love to hear your thoughts! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This work is based on a master’s thesis by Ewa Wikberg, Curator at Nordens Ark. We would like to thank the Helsinki, Ätheri, Kolmården, Nordens Ark, Orsa Bear Park, Köln and Wuppertal Zoos for allowing us to deploy the camera in their exhibits and to the staff at the zoos for all their help. We would also like to thank Tyto Software Private Limited, makers of Sahi Pro, for developing this tool, and those on the Snow Leopard Trust team who have helped in the development and beta testing of the tool.