Monitoring of animal utilization
After installation, we recorded and monitored the footage within the pathway for 24 hours to track the usage of animals. We made efforts to save high-quality footage within the limited budget, aiming to capture the agile movements of the animals for future research.
We installed a video camera on a pillar adjacent to the bridge, recording diurnal animals in color during the daytime and nocturnal animals in monochrome infrared at night. The HDD recorder was placed inside a local electrical box.
Due to the lack of electricity at the installation site, we relied on battery operation. We also tried using solar panels, but faced difficulties in achieving satisfactory results. Retrieving the HDD recordings and replacing the batteries proved to be challenging.
With the commencement of animal pathway operation on public roads, monitoring using the prototype has concluded.
Hokuto-city No.1 Unit
Equipment and Facility Details
The cameras are housed in enclosures equipped with lights, infrared illumination for night vision, heaters, and fans (left photo), enabling long-term outdoor use in the harsh climate of Kiyosato. The transmitter for data transmission (white box in the center photo) is also housed within the enclosure.
We made several adjustments to the camera settings. During daytime construction, it was not apparent, but in the night footage, the reflection from the copper mesh on the floor made the image difficult to see (right photo). Sunlight, such as during sunrise and sunset, can cause sensor malfunctions when entering the lens, so careful attention is required for the camera placement and angle.
The video data sent from the two cameras is received by the receiver and transmitted to the recorder.
The HDD recorder we used is a commercial model designed for security purposes, capable of simultaneously recording video data from both cameras. It includes motion detection functionality, but it was not effective for detecting wildlife.
In natural environments, the camera and tree branches sway due to wind, and the intensity and angle of sunlight vary significantly with time, weather, and season. Through video analysis, we realized the difficulty of automatically detecting the usage areas of arboreal animals. Sensing systems for wildlife are available in the market, but detecting agile small animals in elevated locations poses challenges.
Immediately after installation, we faced stability issues with data transmission through the communication cables, resulting in video noise problems. Although we managed to mitigate this issue through adjustments, there are still instances where the video gets distorted due to weather conditions and other factors.
Furthermore, the installation locations had high altitudes, leading to frequent transmitter failures due to lightning strikes. This had a significant impact, causing recording interruptions and incurring repair costs.
Workflow after Recording - Video Review and Storage
The recorded video footage on the HDD is visually inspected by research groups and volunteers to identify animal usage areas. They input this information into a database and extract video clips (clipping) for further analysis. Due to the proprietary file format of the recorder, which has a lower image quality and limited usability on computers, the clips are processed on a computer using a hardware MPEG encoder.
Reviewing the extensive 24-hour footage from the two cameras is a time-consuming task, but progress is being made gradually.
The monitoring camera footage is continuously streamed in real-time to the Keyakemura Museum, allowing for nighttime observation as well. During the active summer season, the footage is also made available to museum visitors for public viewing.
Record of Use and Database Management
As of February 2010, approximately 2,900 hours of recorded footage, over 1,600 records of animal usage, and more than 700 clipped video files have been analyzed. In March 2010, Mr. Minato presented the findings at the Ecological Society of Japan.
Based on the results of the pilot project and the Kitametsumi No. 1 device, the following are the future challenges. Kitametsumi No. 2 is planned to be installed on-site with two cameras and an HDD recorder.
Current Challenges of the Monitoring System
- Standardization and manual development
- Cost reduction of equipment
- Improvement of efficiency in video data collection and database management
- Efficiency enhancement through the implementation of various sensors for recording
- Monitoring of forests and installation paths
- Monitoring through still images (photographs), etc.