Checking What Tim’s Camera Traps Have Caught is Made Much More Fun with a Panasonic Toughbook! 

Exped Leader and Head of Media, Martin Holland, on a great day out with Tim checking Camera Traps on the Butler Transect 

Camera traps are fantastic. I have no idea how so much research into the more elusive animals of the rainforest was carried out before their invention, but no doubt it involved interfering in some way with the animal itself. Specimens used to be shot or captured for study, which is a strange thing indeed for a conservationist to do! 

A well placed camera trap, on the other hand, will record all the species that cross its path without them ever realising it’s there. Just like a burglar alarm, the motion sensor is triggered by the subtlest of movements and will either take a photo of the suspect or record a short movie of its antics. They even work at night. 


I followed Tim out onto the Butler Transect (sponsored by Aunty Nu!) to film him checking his traps after they’d been left for 3 weeks in the field. Equally laden with electronics – Tim with his Panasonic Toughbook and me with my camera gear – we skipped and slipped and tripped along the muddy, root strewn trail, dodging thorny branches and impossibly spiny rattan, climbing over fallen trees and crossing streams and rivers and bogs of thick, squelching mud to get to where Tim had placed the traps. 

It’s hard going: you are instantly drenched in sweat and covered in mud, and falls are almost inevitable. It’s in this environment that the Toughbooks we have with us really come into their own. 


Waterproof and capable of withstanding all the knocks and bumps we can throw at them, they mean that Tim can check his traps in the field and make adjustments there and then, instead of having to bring his SD cards back to camp to see what he’s caught on camera. The touchscreen is also brilliant, and I’m always amazed at how I can actually see what’s on the screen in broad daylight. 

Despite the frustrations of the first few traps not picking anything up for various reasons, we had a great day. My strange and often conflicting combination of roles mean I spend a lot of time at Camp Foyle sorting out various little problems and editing most of our media ready to send home. I cherish every minute I get to spend out in the field with our researchers and guides exploring this amazing environment.

At the end of the Butler Transect there is an impressive strangler fig tree where Tim had set some traps. More on this peculiar species later but suffice it to say now that it has a hollow core and it resembles, as Tim eloquently put it, the Eifel Tower in its structure. 

I couldn’t resist climbing up inside it, and Tim very kindly took a photo of me peering out. We’re offering a live Skype Chat to the class of the first student to circle me in the picture and email it back to us at: 

Happy hunting!