Thumbnail Image

Monitoring the ‘original’ panda: Impacts and outcomes of using infra-red trail cameras on captive red panda (Ailurus fulgens) behaviour : A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science at Lincoln University

Bugler, Kathryn
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::310901 Animal behaviour , ANZSRC::410407 Wildlife and habitat management
Introduction: Cryptic species are often studied using trail cameras in the wild. However, their use may cause some animals to be attracted or repelled by them, skewing presence/absence studies, abundance/population estimates and general behaviour patterns. Red panda are an elusive and rare species, found in only the Himalayan mountain range. A recent study observed red panda examining trail cameras on their trails in the wild. Understanding how they respond to trail cameras may influence how cameras are used to monitor them in the future. Aims: I assessed whether trail cameras affected captive red panda behaviour. I also determined time budgets and how they may differ with different observational methods. Methods: I used three zoo study sites, Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Auckland Zoo had a male and female pair with their three-month-old male offspring. Hamilton Zoo had an older male, female pair with their four-year-old female offspring. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary housed a single older male. A Kinopta Blackeye camera was set up on enclosure fencing to record continuously for the full study period. Study periods were split into three sections, with the first being labelled as before trail cameras, this just had the Blackeye camera. The middle third had trail cameras set up inside the enclosure and was called the during period. The last third of the trial (after trail cameras removed) had only the Blackeye setup, with trail cameras removed. During the entire study period, direct personal observations were also taken, noting typical significant factors, such as weather and temperature. Statistical analysis was carried out using R studio, with a mixture of chi-square, negative binomial GLMs, emmeans, pairwise comparisons and AIC tests. Graphs were created with Excel and R studio. Results: Sleeping was the most common behaviour, followed by locomotion, resting, eating and grooming. All other behaviours were less than 1% of all behaviours. The most active periods occurred in a crepuscular pattern, as with wild panda and in some cases, followed keeper timings. This led to the significant difference between zoo activity budgets. There was a significant difference in types of behaviours recorded with the two observational methods, showing that method does affect the type of data collected. Trail cameras affected behaviour at all zoos by changing the way red panda spent their time. Captive red panda were slightly more active with trail camera presence. Temperature also had a significant impact on length of behaviours. Red panda spent more time sleeping and resting at higher temperatures. Conclusions: As trail cameras changed the way red panda spent their time (in a captive setting), care should be taken for using trail cameras in the wild. While stress responses and obvious signs of avoiding areas with trail cameras did not occur, if behaviour is being monitored, then it is likely to be skewed by trail camera presence. Red panda were more active during trail camera presence, which might suggest an inflated abundance estimate if using trail cameras in the wild.
Source DOI
Creative Commons Rights
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Access Rights