Advanced Camera Traps – Western Ghats, India
January 8 – 13, 2018 (6 Days)
Deadline to register: December 1
Although camera traps first came on the market to assist hunters in locating possible prey species, they have been co-opted by conservationists and wildlife biologists alike as a critical field tool to peek into the lives of elusive animals, affording them a perspective they could never achieve by any other means. Today, camera traps are affordable, lightweight, water-proof, offer a range of flash technologies, record both videos and photographs, and are ubiquitously triggered by motion-detecting sensors.
The average camera trap image, almost universally, cannot but produce a shiver of horror to most wildlife photographers.
Enter, the new wave of camera-traps. Why spend extraordinary amounts of money on a high-end camera trap when you can convert your own (possibly already expensive) camera into one?
In this workshop, we view the world of camera-traps from a blend of two perspectives: the functionality required by a wildlife biologist and the aesthetic mastery of a wildlife photographer. We show that it is indeed possible to produce that wonder of wonders, a masterful photograph of an elusive animal using a camera trap. In the beginning of the course, we will use conventional camera traps to explore the variables that one has to consider when placing them, in order to detect diurnal and nocturnal, as well as terrestrial and arboreal creatures. We will then participate in a series of tutorial sessions in which you will build your own camera traps from scratch, which can be triggered by motion or sound, using programmable Raspberry Pi technology (no prior knowledge necessary). For those of you who want to convert your higher-end DSLR camera into a motion-detecting beast, we offer an add-on package you can purchase through us to enable this transformation. At the end of the workshop, not only will you walk away with a practical understanding of how best to use conventional camera traps in rainforest settings, but you will also own a camera trap that you built from scratch.
- Spend a winter in India camera trapping in leopard and elephant country
- Leave with your own camera trap, made by you!
- Explore the incredible, relatively under-explored, biodiversity hotspot that is the Western Ghats of India
- Learn trail-camera setup, operation and placement
- Visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, famous for its influx in birds during this (winter) period
- Learn in small and intimate groups, including more one-on-one time with the instructor
- Learn from professional field guide and photographer Ishaan Raghunandan, who spends his summers as a wildlife biologist in the Peruvian Amazon.
Camera trapping allows us to look into the secret lives of animals
- Food & Refreshments
- Bedrooms and Baths
Day 1: January 8th
Arrive before 6 am this day, as we will drive to Mysore from Bangalore early this morning. Spend the afternoon viewing India’s wildlife at close-range at the country’s oldest zoo, the Mysore Zoo, which began as the personal collection of animals of the Maharajah of Mysore. Open Pi kits and program them using the internet. Spend the night in a hotel in Mysore
Day 2: January 9th
Drive from Mysore to Nagarhole National Park. Safari at the national park. Drive on to Fringe Ford and arrive by tea time. First night at the field station
Day 3 – 5: January 10-12
Explore the remarkable rainforests of the Western Ghats by foot, learning about trail-cam operations, setup, and placement. Hear from wildlife biologists who use camera traps in the Amazon rainforest to monitor mammal populations. Build your own camera trap and, if you choose, modify your own camera into a motion-detecting machine.
Day 6: January 13
Return to Bangalore. Fly out in the evening at any time after 8 pm.
While traveling to the field site, three meals a day will be provided at reputable hotels along the highway. Breakfast in Mysore will be provided at the hotel that we are staying at. Once we have arrived at Fringeford, food quality increases significantly, with delicious meals featuring Kerala cuisine. These meals are healthy and will fill you up, but this is the middle of the rainforest, so don’t expect to get all your food groups represented in the same way you try to eat while you are at home. If you are concerned about this, take a multi-vitamin while at the field station. Vegetarians will sometimes get tofu and soy meat substitutes. Being vegan at this workshop can be difficult (but it is not impossible).
You will also have access to cookies, crackers, coffee, and tea, at all times during the day while at camp. If you think you will do better with Cliff or Luna bars (or the like), please bring some for yourself. Any additional treats you bring (including precious chocolate) will be fair game for small rainforest creatures, so bring plenty of ziplock bags in which to place your food. Also avoid leaving wrappers in your rooms containing anything edible because that will attract some curiosity from the local miniature wildlife.
- Companion Participants
- Fee Details
International Air Travel: Getting to India from a different country is accomplished primarily by air. We recommend using Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia to book your flights online. Local students can book on Make My Trip. Students must plan to arrive no later than 6 am on January 1st, 2018. If you are arriving earlier than this time, we can provide you with local hotel recommendations, but you must book these independently.
As with all of our workshops, a comprehensive travel packet that contains information on when and how to book your travel, visas, vaccinations, and packing tips, will be made available to all participants. This packet is provided to participants once they have registered for the workshop. Departure should be planned from Bangalore no earlier than 8 pm on the 8th of January. If you decide to continue elsewhere from the field station, Mysore or Bangalore, you may certainly also do that.
Visas: These are required for travel to India for citizens of many countries. To apply for a visa, use the following websites or contact us for more information if you can’t locate it online: Travisa or Cox and Kings
You can get an e-tourist visa as a US citizen applying for an Indian visa, which is a quick way to get a visa upon arrival in India by acquiring prior electronically generated approval in the US. The final stamp in your passport happens when you land in India, after biometrics are taken at the airport. Note: You must not apply earlier than 34 days before you travel to India, processing time is ~3 business days, and it costs $49 with Travisa. You have to provide a valid passport and confirmed round-trip flight tickets to apply. It will only allow you to enter the country once, for a total duration of 30 days. You cannot leave to visit any other neighboring country and return back to India to catch a flight to the US with this visa i.e. this is a single-entry and NOT a multiple-entry visa. You also can only have 2 such visas in a 12-month.
You can also apply for a traditional tourist visa, which can take a little longer to process and which involves sending your passport to an agency and getting it returned. You can, however, get a ten-year multiple entry tourist visa for ~$125 with a 6-10 business day turnaround, depending on where you live in the US and which consulate you approach. This visa should allow you to enter and leave the country freely during your stay, facilitating any additional travel in the region if you so desire.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, Travisa is probably a good agency to use since it does offer some global services. Otherwise, contact your local Indian consulate and ask them for help. In many countries, it’s possible to walk-in your papers to the consulate in-person and get a visa both quickly and independent of any agency. In some others, you have to go through an agency. This will vary by country.
IMPORTANT: If you are Indian by origin, or have recently switched from Indian to other citizenship, you have somewhat of a longer road ahead of you, so begin the visa process quickly for it can take ~2 months to complete.
Vaccines: You will have to provide proof of a normal vaccination record (as listed here by the CDC). For travel to India, we require that you also get the following vaccines: Typhoid (oral or injectable) and Hepatitis A. It is additionally recommended to speak with your doctor or a travel clinic about the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, and to follow their expert advice in this matter. If you have the current flu shot for the year as well, all the better. Find a travel clinic and get your shots EARLY.
You may consider taking malaria prophylaxis if you like, particularly for your stay in Mysore and Bangalore. There are no mosquitoes at the field station so the risk of catching malaria while there is minimal. Please follow your health care provider’s recommendations in this regard.
The CDC’s recommendations for travelers to India may be found here.
Arrival packet: When all participants have submitted their travel information form (see above), we will collate this information and send you an Arrival Plan. This document will let you know if others are traveling on the same flight/bus as you and provide you with their email addresses so you can get in touch in advance (if you want to). You will also receive exact instructions on what to do when you land, and an image of your instructor/local contact so you can look out for us at the airport/bus station. More importantly, we will provide you with instructions on what to do if you find out that you have been delayed. The Arrival Plan will also include local contact information for your instructor so that you can get in touch with them if needed to let them know if your travel plans were forced to change for some reason.
Please do not panic about being picked up at an airport or not knowing who will do this until you receive the Arrival Plan. That plan will contain all the information you need. Expect it to arrive electronically just before Christmas.
The following equipment will be available at the workshop:
- Trail cameras (Bushnell)
- Gps, Compass
- Raspberry Pi Camera system (your property at the end of the course)
- Raspberry Pi
- 1080p camera for Pi
- Noir camera for Pi
- Wifi module for raspberry pi
- DSLR cameras for learning purposes during classes (not to be used in the field)
You must bring the following equipment with you:
- Any camera, even a phone camera will do.
- Raw editing software
- Rain boots
- Rain protection – for camera gear and person
Having a DSLR is recommended as certain topics will require a fully manual camera to learn. If however you do not own a DSLR, FPI will provide 3 DSLR’s available for students to use in particular classes. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to reserve one of these cameras.
Other optional items:
- Zoom lens
- ADD-ON: PIR sensor for your DSLR camera trap (please contact us with queries if you want to add this to your course. Cost TBA)
Single Supplement: $300 USD (if you do not want to be paired with another participant during the field course)
Spouse/Partner Supplement: $1200 USD (for a non-photographing partner/spouse to join you. Spots limited. Enquire right away.)
Special rate for Indian citizens and residents: $600 USD discount on overall fee. You MUST contact us at email@example.com prior to registering to avail of this fee. You will be asked to prove citizenship AND residency in the country. Only 3 such spots are available for each field course.
- The fee for this tour is $2200 USD, and includes the following:
- Food and lodging for the entire workshop.
- Transportation to and from Bangalore to Mysore including the field sites.
- Experienced instructors and field equipment.
This workshop fee does NOT include:
- International travel to India.
- Travel or health insurance (proof of health insurance is required for workshop attendance).
- Rubber boots, binoculars, flashlight and insect repellent (all of which are required to take this workshop).
- A camera
We provide an option to obtain financial assistance for attending this field workshop:
- Fundraising: FPI can now provide a peer-to-peer crowd funding platform for all field workshop students. You will be able to make your own fundraising page to share with your contacts and social networks. At the end of the fundraising period, FPI will issue a discount code to you for 100% of the funds that you have raised. You would then enter this code as you make your final workshop payment. If you raise enough to cover all (or part) of your initial reservation fee, you would be refunded that portion as well. Please note that funds raised in excess of your program fees will be rolled into our scholarship fund. Also, if you withdraw from the workshop at any time, your donors cannot get a refund. In this case, all of those funds would also roll over into our scholarship fund for other students. To set up this option, please register for a workshop, first, and then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your fundraising page.
Please read our cancellation policy carefully before applying to this tour:
- $100 of your deposit made during registration is a processing fee that is nonrefundable under any circumstances.
- If you cancel on or before the registration deadline of Friday, December 1st, 2017, we will refund all workshop fees paid in full (except for the processing fee of $100).
- If you cancel your reservation by December 15, 2017, you will be refunded 40% of your workshop fee.
- Workshop fees cannot be refunded for cancellations made after December 15, 2017.
- If FPI has to cancel this workshop due to mitigating reasons, a full refund of all fees paid, including the registration fee, will be made available to all participants.
- Early departures from the field workshop are not entitled to a refund for any reason.