Snapshot Serengeti Talk

Seeing the same individuals

  • Jaqqson by Jaqqson

    What are the chances that we are seeing the same individuals in some of these photographs? As someone with little knowledge of the area, i'm impressed with how many animals there seem to be, especially all the thompson's gazelle and wildebeest which seem to be practically everywhere. Whilst there is often only two or three individuals in a photograph, the fact that there are so many photographs showing them seems positive.

    Are there really tons of animals around the areas that these cameras are placed in, or are we seeing the same individuals a lot of times?


  • davidbygott by davidbygott moderator

    Excellent question. There are, literally, tons of animals, but whether you repeatedly see the same ones depends on the species. A few species are migratory and abundant - over a million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebra and tommies - so they will sweep through the area and move on, and you are unlikely to see the same ones twice. Eland are also migratory but in smaller numbers. Hyenas have stable core areas but range very widely to follow migratory prey. Same with cheetahs. Most of the rest, however, are resident within fairly limited ranges. There's one scene where we often see dikdiks near a large bush, and those will be the same dikdiks every time. Hartebeest standing close to the camera will be members of the same small herd. Impalas, warthogs, buffalo, primates, small cats, leopards and even lions don't go very far. With some of these animals, like the spotted cats, individuals are easy to ID from coat patterns, so scientists can actually map their ranges by noting which cameras they visit.


  • tillydad by tillydad moderator in response to davidbygott's comment.

    As a footnote, elephants too will travel over large distances and are also recognisable by ear patterns, tusk size and family groupings 😃