WildSnap! Durrell helps teenagers explore nature through tech
A major part of Durrell’s mission is to help one million people become better connected to nature by 2025 – the year their founder, Gerald Durrell, would have celebrated his 100th birthday. The aim of WildSnap is to ultimately improve the nature connection of teenagers in Jersey by using self-build wildlife cameras.
“Interest in the natural world often dramatically declines during teenage years,” says Durrell’s Conservation Learning Manager, Fiona Marchant, who is leading the project.
“Nature connection is hugely important, not only because people who are better connected to nature are more likely to demonstrate pro-environmental behaviours, but they also tend to have better mental and physical health. By using self-build camera kits with secondary schools and youth groups on the island, we will enable teenagers to build, programme, and deploy homemade ‘camera traps’, which can be used to capture the beauty of local wildlife and strengthen their connection with the natural world around them.”
The “camera traps” are triggered by movement in front of the lens. More specifically, the software used by the cameras prompts them to take a digital photograph whenever there is a significant change in the field of vision in front of the lens, for example when a squirrel appears! The photographs are stored by the camera and can be transferred to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other devices within Wi-Fi range.
Conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts use motion-triggered “camera traps” to take photographs of shy and enigmatic creatures that normally hide from human eyes. For example, our team in India uses camera traps to monitor wild populations of pygmy hogs in Assam, and sometimes capture special glimpses of female hogs with their tiny piglets, as well as a range of other fascinating species, including hog deer, monitor lizards, elephants, rhinos, and even tigers!
Durrell is calling for secondary schools and youth clubs on the island to get involved and share their hidden camera snaps and the incredible wildlife they discover.
“We are encouraging Jersey’s teenagers to give it a go,” says Fiona. “You may discover that there are more creatures living around you than you’d realised!”
The team is very grateful to Sure Jersey for generously donating 20 powerbanks to the WildSnap project to enable more young people to build wildlife cameras and connect with the natural world around them. Durrell is looking for more sponsors to join the project and help teenagers explore nature through tech – if you or your business is interested in supporting, the WildSnap team can be contacted at email@example.com
Durrell plans to celebrate the images through a unique, island-wide photography competition, culminating in an exhibition that will bring nature to the streets of St. Helier. The photographs will be posted on social media throughout the project to share Jersey’s beauty further afield. WildSnap is on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
For this project, Durrell is working in partnership with the Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths and The Royal College of Art’s, My Naturewatch programme.