Monkey Forest Tales: Challenges of working in urban versus rural areas: questions

In today’s post we talk about another challenge of working in urban versus rural areas. We are going to talk about the differences in the type of questions that these different systems can address as well as some challenges to answer those questions.

Rural and urban areas represent different kind of threats for wildlife, and even if threats are the same (e.g. road killing) frequency and severity of those threat are not necessarily the same in urban versus rural areas. Therefore, questions varies and the way to measure those threats also varies.

For example, is common to use camera traps located in wildlife crossing to measure road killing and the use of wildlife crossing measures (e.g. canopy bridges). In urban areas, one of the challenges is to avoid people to destroyed, rob or vandalized camera traps. Because these camera traps are usually located in a more populated areas, more visible and usually area where several illegal activities occur, it is more common that we lose our equipment, or it is vandalized. Although this can also happen in rural areas where illegal hunting occurs, it is more common in urban areas.

Something that usually helps is to socialize your activities with the people living nearby to the areas where you will put your camera traps. Involving local people and then sharing pictures you take of all the animals living close to them, sometimes helps to avoid issues of vandalizing equipment as they help you to take care of that equipment.

Another challenge of working in urban areas is robbery of your equipment while doing observations. We usually use cameras, binocular and GPS to collect specific data when doing behavioral and ecological studies with monkeys. In urban areas, especially close to forest remanent is common to be robed. Those are places that sometimes are isolated or with few public lights, therefore is easy to be robbed. Although not as precise as a GPS, phone apps to collect GPS locations can help. I don’t recommend going with cameras and use cameras in your phone to take specific pictures to illustrate your work and always work in pair to reduce some risks of working in urban areas. Not all urban areas represent the same risk and I’m especially referring to conditions of working in Colombian cities.

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