Dr. Kate Jenks, Conservation Biologist at the Minnesota Zoo, is in Myanmar where she is exploring options for the Zoo to become involved in the conservation of endangered dholes (also known as Asian wild dogs), in partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.Myanmar-5

I went to bed smelling of dead things and I woke up smelling of dead things. Yesterday we trained the rangers at Natmataung National Park, Myanmar, in camera-trap monitoring. Camera traps are cameras connected to an infrared sensor that detects heat and motion. The camera is strapped to a tree in the forest and when an animal walks by, the camera automatically takes a photo (even at night, 24 hours a day). This gives biologists information about where an animal was travelling and what time it was active. To encourage wildlife to explore the area within the trigger range of the camera we put a dribble of scent lure, which mimics the smell of dead animals, on a stick as bait. The strong and novel smell is irresistible to a curious animal. I accidentally rubbed against that stick during our demo (hence the smelling of dead things – it is not an easy smell to simply rinse off).Myanmar-6

I assisted with the camera training as part of a project organized by Dr. Bill McShea, Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He is working with local villagers to increase wildlife in the park and the cameras will help measure the progress. The rangers will setup cameras throughout the dry season (November through April). I am excited to see the photos in April and who knows? – we might just detect my personal species of interest – the dhole or Asian wild dog.